A press release about West Virginia University’s involvement in a graduate scholarship program has led to students creating a fundraiser for pancreatic cancer.

It all started when Annette Fetty-Santilli, a volunteer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, read a press release announcing WVU’s participation in The Vest Scholarship Program. Her nephew, JT Fetty, is a freshman in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resource.

“I approached the Statler College because I learned that one of its most outstanding alums—Charles Vest passed away from pancreatic cancer,” said Fetty-Santilli, who lost a brother to the illness. “I thought this would be a way to honor Dr. Vest and engage more people into the fight against pancreatic cancer.”

Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College, approached members of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, to see if they would be willing to help.

“Dr. Vest was a member of TBP and asking them to be part of this initiative to honor his legacy seemed like a perfect fit,” Cilento said.

TBP members took the ball and ran with it—or in their case, kicked it—by creating a Bubble Soccer Tournament to benefit PCAN. Bubble soccer features players encased in zorb-like inflatable bubbles who are encouraged to bounce into each other as they fight for possession of the ball.

The inaugural event will be held on Sunday, November 8, from 3-6 p.m. Entry fees for the five-on-five event are $50 and signups will occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the ground floor of the Engineering Sciences Building through November 5.

“Ben Orendorff, the special events coordinator at the WVU Student Rec Center, suggested the event based on the timing and nature of the fundraiser,” said Ryan Gellner, TBP vice president. “We got overwhelming support from our membership and the idea went from there.”

Gellner, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering from Glen Dale, enlisted the help of fellow TBP seniors Andy Maloney, a chemical engineering major from Morgantown, and Brek Jeffrey, a mechanical engineering major from Parkersburg. The trio are also students in WVU’s Honors College.

“An event like this is important to TBP and the University because it gets a number of people involved in something that’s fun and for a great cause,” said Gellner. “The event, which is open to students, faculty and staff, will help raise awareness on campus and will allow PCAN to extend its reach out into the community. We hope it starts a great relationship between TBP, WVU and PCAN so that the fundraiser can be a tradition for years to come.”

Vest, who died in 2013, served as president of the National Academy of Engineering after serving as president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan. A dedicated advocate for research and science and a passionate supporter of diversity and openness, Vest earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from WVU in 1963. He served as a member of the WVU Board of Governors in the final years of his life.

For more information on the tournament or to register, contact Gellner at rygellner@mix.wvu.edu or TBP advisor, Melissa Morris, at melissa.morris@mail.wvu.edu.

Additional financial support for the event has been provided by the Statler College.



CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4086, Mary.Dillon@mail.wvu.edu

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