When people think of pageants, they may have a negative opinion, given the judgment of beauty and awards of crowns and sashes. But the Ohio State Operation Smile Club wants to use its Mr. University pageant competition as a platform for fundraising and change.
The Operation Smile Club is sponsoring the pageant with the goal to raise the money for their organization, which raises funds for cleft palate and cleft lip surgeries in disadvantaged countries. The winner Mr. University will be determined by who raises the most money.
Dena Pierog, director of collaboration for the Operation Smile Club and a third-year in marketing, said that normally the club sells doughnuts, but they wanted to try a different fundraising approach. She stressed the importance of the event in raising money for the life-changing surgeries.
“I think it is very important to give to others less fortunate than you are when the opportunity arises, and this event lets participants do that and have an awesome time,” Pierog said. “Our goal is to raise $720, which would provide three surgeries for children born with cleft lip and cleft palate because some people in poverty-stricken countries could not afford to pay for this surgery out of pocket.”
Pierog said that usually when people think about pageants, they think of traditionally female contestants only. She said that having the Mr. University pageant open to both genders “flips the tables on the gender stereotype.”
Connor Wagner, vice president of operations for the club and a first-year in neuroscience, said the audience of the Mr. University competition will determine who moves on in the competition by voting with money. Each contestant will take part in an on-stage challenge such as a question or lip-synching competition. The audience will then donate money to their favorite contestant, and the contestant with the least money will not proceed to the next round.
“The Mr. University contest blends having fun with supporting a great cause, which is Operation Smile,” Wagner said.
The Mr. University pageant competition will take place at 8 p.m. on April 8 at the U.S. Bank Conference Theater at the Ohio Union, and they are accepting applications for participants until Wednesday.