By: Whitney Brothers
As a Volunteer, I live by the saying “I will give my all for Tennessee today!”, but
I would have never expected this to include watching the sun rise from inside Neyland Stadium.
On Wednesday, March 29th, 2017, 4,223 ‘Vols for Life’ gathered together to break the Guinness World Record for the largest human letter on the Today Show as part of Al Roker’s “Rokerthon”. The mark to beat was 3,373 individuals. This record was set in 2016 by Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada by forming a huge “Q”. Al himself said, “You guys have T’s everywhere!”, but he wasn’t quite prepared for the biggest ‘T’ of them all. With the help of students, faculty & staff, and alumni, a 190 feet by 190 feet ‘Power T’ was born.
The University of Tennessee is no rookie when it comes to knowing how to get college students to an event. If the hope of meeting Al Roker or being on the Today Show wasn’t enough, participants also received free t-shirts, coffee, and breakfast. There were even drawings for VolShop prizes, campus dining giftcards, and 2 scholarships. Because of this, we might have also broken the world record for the most college students awake before 6 a.m.…. but I guess one record is enough for now.
Besides hanging with my favorite pup, Smokey X, I was able to be a part of the pre-Today Show magic on Tuesday. From the iconic chimes of Ayres Hall and painting The Rock to running through the ‘T’ with Butch Jones, Al experienced just a taste of our Tennessee traditions. University Housing’s own recent celebrity, Quamir Boddie (better known as Q), finished off Tuesday’s filming by reading Al a bedtime story, titled, “A Dog Named Rocky”, in Stokely Hall while the UT Singers sang a lullaby (the Alma Mater, of course!). I sure hope Al enjoyed his time on Rocky Top as much as we enjoyed his visit!
One of my favorite parts of the whole event was seeing all of the faculty and staff involved in making this record-breaking event come to life. Parking and Transit began running routes at 4:30 a.m., Athletics prepared the field, and volunteers from many other offices gave out t-shirts and breakfast to the sleepy students wandering into the stadium. Many of University Housing’s own, including Dr. Frank Cuevas, Carrie Worley, Joel Kramer, and Jerry Adams, began arriving as early as 4:00 a.m. to begin setting up. Dean of Students, Melissa Shivers, along with New Student and Family Programs staff even entertained the crowd by dancing on the field. UT’s feature in “Rokerthon” wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of practically every office on campus. So, thanks UT for the memories, and my spot in the 2017 Guinness World Record book!