Stevenson Spirit Fest takes aim at cure for cancer, world record
BY RONNIE WACHTER email@example.com | @ronniewachter September 12, 2013 11:56AM
Arjun Ahuja of Long Grove takes aim at the dunk tank during last year's Spirit Fest event at Stevenson High School. | Brian O'Mahoney/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 20, 2013 6:02AM
On Sept. 21, the Stevenson High School community will attempt to take a Bubble Wrap-popping world record away from the city that invented Bubble Wrap.
Spirit Fest, Stevenson’s annual Homecoming-week fundraiser, returns to the football field Saturday, Sept. 21, bringing bigger inflatable games, a photo booth, fireworks show, 5-kilometer race, teacher dunk tank, and another shot at breaking a Guinness world record.
The current record holder for Bubble Wrap popping is Hawthorne High School in Hawthorne, N.J. Stevenson’s goal is to top the record for most people popping the packing bubbles at the same time. With 366 participants, Hawthorne set the record Jan. 28, during its own fundraiser for Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“We always look for something that’s in our wheelhouse, of something we can realistically break,” said Brett Erdmann, Stevenson’s community services coordinator, who puts Spirit Fest together with its student sponsors from the National Honor Society.
The beneficiary of this year’s effort will be the Christopher Steele Foundation, a non-profit named after a Stevenson graduate who died of brain cancer.
Regardless of the world-record outcome, Spirit Fest is expected to raise thousands of dollars for the Christopher Steele Foundation, established in memory of the Class of 2000 Patriot, who died from cancer in 2006. The foundation uses most of its donations to support research toward cures for brain cancer, but also funds a pair of $500 scholarships for Stevenson graduates who will play hockey or baseball in college, two of the sports Steele played.
The event goes from 5 to 9:30 p.m., with the bubble-popping at 8:15 p.m. and the fireworks beginning at 9 p.m.
Last year, participants raised $18,600 for the Lauri S. Bauer Foundation for Sudden Loss. In 2011, students donated more than $20,000 to Court Appointed Special Advocates Lake County.
And in 2010, Spirit Fest became the site of a new world record: 525 people doing “the robot” dance. Attempts in 2011 and 2012 were stymied by red tape, but Erdmann said he keeps his Guinness plaque from 2010 on his wall.
Accompanying the new beneficiary’s fight against cancer, Spirit Fest will also have an “honor wall” where loved ones of cancer survivors and victims can write messages and pin photos for others to see.
The National Honor Society students voted for the Steele Foundation after going through an application process. Bubble-bursting also was their idea.
“They go on the Guinness site, and you can sort it by how many people are needed to break the record,” Erdmann said. “And then from there, they decide, ‘Well, that looks kinda goofy,’ they could see people enjoying that.”
Should Stevenson succeed, the victory will be fine with the current record-holders. A spokeswoman for Hawthorne High School said its Guinness attempt came at the suggestion of the Sealed Air Corporation, the producers of Bubble Wrap, which hosted a promotional event and fund-raiser shortly after the horror at the Connecticut school.
Erdmann guaranteed a victory for the Stevenson record attempt.
“We can at least double it,” he said.
Inventors Marc Chavannes and Al Fielding created Bubble Wrap in their garage in Hawthorne in 1960; Sealed Air is now based in nearby Elmwood Park.