One of the more original traditions at St. Thomas, the Ireland Hall teeter-totter marathon occurs each spring. The event harkens back to May 1990. Led by Mark Roach, Mark Quayle (Tommie Award Winner ’92), Paul Kraft, Bob Verkuilen and Craig Teiken, the residents took a stand against domestic violence raising $5,000 for the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter, a home for battered women and their children, located in Minneapolis. To successfully complete the approximately 100,000 teeters needed, a heavy-duty mechanism was crafted by then-resident Chris Harrington and his father.

Freshmen Rose Nelson and Amee Ellis

Freshmen Rose Nelson and Amee Ellis

Through the years, the teeter-totter marathon has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the shelter, which merged with other service organizations to become Tubman. It now offers help to families struggling with domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness.

The St. Thomas tradition started as the result of a student disciplinary decision. A student had defaced a female doll. In reparation, the student was to design a fundraiser to benefit female victims of abuse. As a result of the unfortunate incident, the fundraiser was born.

In order to raise funds and meet their goal, each of the participating Ireland Hall residents pay a minimum amount to ride the teeter-totter for an hour. They also go out into the community to secure pledges from local businesses, family, friends, fellow students, faculty and staff.

Since the inaugural year, few things have changed. While the original event involved 48 hours of continuous teetering, the event was expanded to 72 hours in 1993. However the mission and impressive teeter-totter technique remain the same. Students continue to flock to the event hoping to claim a time-slot. Contrary to what you might expect, the night shifts are usually the first to be filled. While the May-time weather is usually mild, marathoners have had to endure poor conditions, such as the 40 degree temperatures and heavy rain in 2003. Rain or shine, they keep a positive attitude and support each other with hot chocolate and conversation.