SPS on Parade

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Special Feature

SPS on Parade

Texas Chapter Raises Money by Raising Awareness for Cancer


Spenser Lynn, Associate Zone Councilor for Zone 13

Abilene Christian University

ACU SPS members act as human canvases for a breast cancer awareness project. Photo by Tim Head.

It's not every day that you see SPS members parading through downtown wearing artistic bras, but that is exactly what we signed up to do on a Thursday night in October. Some were decorated with lace. Others glittered. One even had antlers.

We took to the streets for two reasons: to raise awareness for breast cancer and to raise funds for the 2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma (PhysCon).

PhysCon was serious business for our chapter in Abilene. By the start of the Fall 2012 semester, 30 SPS members had signed up to make the cross-country trip in November. Getting that many people from Abilene to Orlando would be financially nontrivial. Our goal was to raise $3,000 during the fall semester.

To offset costs for transportation, conference registration, and lodging, Abilene Christian University (ACU) SPS always raises funds between congresses. As soon as one ends, our preparations for the next one begin. Mostly we put on typical, run-of-the-mill events—hosting bake sales, selling t-shirts, and seeking sponsorships from local businesses.

Campus fundraisers had been profitable last year, but meeting our goal would require branching out into the larger Abilene community. The Center for Contemporary Arts hosts a monthly Art Walk where local artists display their work and vendors sell crafts and food. We decided that an evening of selling liquid nitrogen ice cream and talking to Art Walk attendees about physics would provide the perfect opportunity to get involved with the community while raising funds for the trip to Orlando.

Getting a table at Art Walk was no problem, but the director did have an unusual request. As part of a campaign for breast cancer awareness (October is breast cancer awareness month), artists had traded their canvases for underwear and created some of the most outlandish bras Abilene had ever seen. The underwear had been on display for a month at the Center’s headquarters, and the director wanted it to be part of a parade that was being held jointly with the October Art Walk. If ACU could find people to wear the bras in the parade, then there would be no problem selling ice cream.

Sixteen SPS members, 15 of them men, showed up for the parade. We walked into a room that looked like Lady Gaga’s dressing room and, with some nervousness, picked out our favorites, putting them on over our t-shirts. While a smaller group hosted the ice cream table, we strutted out into the public.

The parade was a resounding success. Amid the cheers and laughter, we costumed students grew bolder and waved back to the crowds. At the end of the night, ice cream sales made over $200 in profits, and we showed the community that physics students know how to have fun. //

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