Battle of the Valleys hits final stretch

GVL / Courtesy - Sean OMelia

GVL / Courtesy – Sean O’Melia

Ashlyn Korienek

With only two days left in the competition, Grand Valley State University has spent the past week battling Saginaw Valley State University to take back the title in the 14th annual Battle of the Valleys charity competition.

Facilitated by GVSU’s student senate, the Laker tradition started in 2003 against SVSU to determine which university could raise more money for its respective philanthropy.

The competition spans the week leading up to the Saturday, Nov. 5 football game, as GVSU plays against SVSU. This year, donations received from Oct. 30-Nov. 4 will go to the Laker Children’s Fund.

Money raised by GVSU for the Laker Children’s Fund will then be awarded in mini-grants for up to $5,000 to organizations in Kent and Ottawa counties that focus on helping children.

Student senate’s Executive Vice President Sean O’Melia has been part of the initiative for four years. The most challenging part, O’Melia said, is raising awareness to students and staff about donating and participating in events.

“I would say the most challenging part of this is getting students to register beforehand for events and also getting the support from faculty and staff to help give to this important cause,” he said.

Despite the losses to SVSU in previous years, O’Melia expects the 2016 competition to feature a number of successful and carefully planned events. Among these, “Pie Day” and “GV’s Got Talent” were O’Melia’s top choice.

“I think we will do great, it’s just about getting people out and donating to the cause,” he said. “If people donate a few bucks and just get involved in the week, then I think we can do an amazing job.”

Dan Ziegenfelder, student senate’s Laker Traditions programming chair, said the competition was originally planned only five weeks in advance, but this year’s schedule has been in the works for months.

“Last year is very different from this year,” he said. “Last year we began planning once school got back in session, and it was harder to do it that way because having meetings for the first five weeks was a lot of brain storming. It really didn’t give us a lot of time to plan these events.”

Working alongside O’Melia, Ziegenfelder said six organizations on campus partner with student senate to put on 14 different events throughout the Battle of the Valleys week. In addition, departments on campus participate in Battle of the Valleys, including campus dining.

Ziegenfelder’s favorite events this year were the “Pumpkin Smash” and “Angry Birds.”

Although many of the events are already finished, several opportunities await for Lakers to participate on Thursday and Friday.

Events for Thursday, Nov. 3 located in the Kirkhof Center include “Laker Family Feud” in the Grand River Room at 9 p.m., a carnival at 11 a.m. and a Super Smash Bros. tournament at 3 p.m.

Scheduled for Friday, Nov. 4, Spotlight Production’s will host “Mission Improvable” located in Pere Marquette at 7 p.m. and water pong is at 8 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center’s lounge.

“It started off as a competition, but at the end of the day you’ve got to remember why you are doing it,” Ziegenfelder said. “Helping the kids is more than anything I could ask for, but it would be nice to win this year — that’s what we’re hoping for.”

The results of the competition will be revealed at Saturday’s game during halftime.

To view the full schedule of events, go to