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Sunday, February 17,2013

Faculty earn big laughs in benefit pageant

By Elizabeth Cychosz
Photo Credits: Kevin Riddell/TheAthensNEWS
Photo Caption: by her kids Ruthie Haworth, 7, left, and Zev Haworth, 10, during the talent portion of the Alpha Phi Omega 4th Annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant Saturday.

Ohio University faculty members strutted their stuff onstage during a beauty pageant-style fundraiser over the weekend.

The fourth annual Ava Nichols' Faculty Pageant, put on by the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega's local Delta Gamma chapter, drew a crowd to OU's Memorial Auditorium on Saturday for an afternoon of laughs in order to raise money for cancer patients.

The contestants in this year's contest included psychology professor Julie Suhr; associate professor of marketing Liz Blair; Eddith Dashiell, assistant dean of the College of Communication; communication professor Bill Rawlins; communication graduate student Jessica Furgerson; and Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, executive director of Hillel at Ohio University.

Emcees for the event were Allison Barwacz, Valerie Hudak and Natalie Zelich, all juniors at OU and members of Alpha Phi Omega.

Four years ago, the chapter decided to host this benefit pageant in honor of Ava Nichols, a young girl who was battling an inoperable, malignant brain tumor. Although she lost her fight last year, in years past she had been the guest of honor. Two years ago, she even performed her own act, lip-syncing to a Taylor Swift song.

"She was so cute and so animated and just the sweetest little girl," Zelich recalled.

In the past, the pageant was earmarked as a benefit for St. Jude's Children's Hospital, but this year the organizers decided to do something different. Several members of the chapter had volunteered at Camp Quality Ohio, a summer camp for children with cancer that pairs each child up with an adult volunteer.

"It's the best week of (the kids') lives, and being a part of that is awesome," Hudak said.

 "Our brothers really did fall in love with the kids at that place," said Rachel Levine, who, along with Ciara Strittmather, planned the event for the chapter this year. "This program supports us as much as we support it. With what that organization does, we really decided that the money would be better used at Camp Quality," Levine said.

The event alternated between descriptions of the fraternity, camp and Ava Nichols, and traditional pageant contests. The six contestants competed in formal wear and a talent competitions, and a question and answer session. Some of the more memorable moments included Suhr and her dog, Elvis, crooning a duet of Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love," and Rawlins (who also plays in a local band) performing an original song about trying to repair a relationship by doing everything the other doesn't like.

At the conclusion of the pageant, the sparkly tiara of first place was awarded to Leshaw. Second place was awarded to Furgerson and third was awarded to Dashiell.

"The professors were all really excited to be here and participate," Strittmather said. "I think they all had a really good time."

"Bottom line: I think we did a great service for Camp Quality Ohio," Levine concluded. "We definitely raised money for them, and that's ultimately what we came out to do."


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