DJs stay awake for 50 hours to raise money for the Ithaca Veterans’ Sanctuary

A dozen Ithaca College students crowded the VIC radio station this Sunday at 5:40 p.m., dancing and singing, excitement filling the small room as the clock neared 6 p.m. For the four DJs who’d been awake for the last three days, this hour couldn’t come soon enough.

The four student DJs—Joe Calinda, Jess Lubas, Pat Hayes and Dave Sperling—attempted to stay awake 50 hours for the VIC Radio 28th Annual 50 Hour Marathon, a yearly event in which VIC sells radio hours to sponsors to raise money for a local nonprofit.

This year, the station chose to raise funds for the Ithaca Veterans’ Sanctuary. They raised a total of $3,631.69, which was roughly the same amount as previous years, according to Shannon Anthony, community involvement and fundraising director for VIC. Before the event started on Friday, VIC had sold 63.5 hours. The 50-hour marathon was simulcast on WICB and ICTV.

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VIC raised funds for the Ithaca Veterans’ Sanctuary

The Ithaca Veterans’ Sanctuary focuses on helping soldiers transition from combat life to civilian life through holistic methods. Included in their program is a community garden, a combat paper arts studio where Veterans’ can cut up their uniforms and mash them into pulp to turn into paper for artwork, and a Warrior Writer’s group where they meet in Autumn Leaves Used Books, write poetry and discuss their experiences.

Anthony, a senior business major who has held this position at VIC for the past two years, said she was excited that they were able to help out the Veterans’ Sanctuary’s cause.

“I think that this is an amazing cause,” said Anthony. “No matter what, people can relate to it whether you believe in the war or not, people join that aren’t like ‘I wanna kill someone’ but they needed to do it, financial wise and other reasons. So I think it’s important to see that aspect: even if you’re against war you can still support the veterans who are fighting it, and this is a great way to bring the community together around that cause and help people.”


Fighting sleep

One of the caveats of staying up 50 hours was that the DJs weren’t allowed to have any coffee until Sunday morning. The two “street team” DJs, Hayes and Sperling, who went out and covered events during the 50 hours were allowed to sleep, but they said on Friday that they were going to try to stay awake the whole time.

“This is my first time attempting to stay up the whole 50 hours,” said Sperling, a senior television radio major. “We have the option to if we need it, but we’re not going to sleep. We’re going to struggle it out with [the other DJs].”

The DJs had food delivered to them, and were able to leave the station for chunks of time to shower, change clothes and take short breaks.

On Saturday at 4 p.m., 24 hours in, all of the DJs had managed to stay awake, although they said they were beginning to feel the effects of the lack of sleep.

“Fun story,” said Sperling. “Me and Pat went out for a cigarette and I thought it was three minutes. It was 12.”

“Time is odd right now,” added Hayes. “It still feels like Friday.”

During the 50 hours, the DJs played the standard VIC music and requests, and interviewed artists including OK GO, Moon Taxi, Cosmo Jarvis and Youngblood Hawke. The Ithaca Veterans’ Sanctuary also talked to VIC on-air and came to the studio to read their poetry—all of which can be listened to on VIC radio’s Tumblr.

In the end, Lubas, a junior environmental studies major, was the only one out of the four DJs who successfully stayed awake the whole 50 hours. Lubas said she pulled through by staying busy during breaks, doing yoga and going to the gym.

“It was very hard [to stay awake] this afternoon,” said Lubas on Sunday. “But then you get the adrenaline of it all ending and everyone coming. It was an amazing experience, definitely one I always would have wanted to try once in my life.”

Calinda, a sophomore film, photography and visual art major, was very close to staying awake the 50 hours, but he nodded off in the middle of a talk set around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, according to Anthony. Further shenanigans included Sperling going missing around 4 a.m. on Sunday, his shoes and some of his clothing at WICB, but he, himself, nowhere to be found. A search party confirmed that Sperling was taking a nap in the green room in Park.

Following the final song marking the end of the 50 hours, the VIC staff members cheered, hugged each other and were ready to head to bed.

“I feel very, very relieved, like I’m just going to cuddle with my big oversized pillow and go to sleep for a very long time,” said Calinda.

Anthony said she was pleased with how the event turned out.

“When we told [the Veterans’ Sanctuary] how much we raised—which wasn’t even the full amount yet—one woman [from the Veterans’ Sanctuary] literally screamed, she was so excited. I’m just glad we could raise so much money for such a great cause; everyone did such a fantastic job, I had so much help and all the four DJs were wonderful—it couldn’t have gone any better.”


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