UConn student's idea will support Sandy Hook fund
A University of Connecticut student has found a unique way to raise awareness and support for the Sandy Hook School Memorial Scholarship Fund since the start of the new semester.
Matt Stypulkoski, a 6th-semester journalism major and staff writer for The Daily Campus, began selling green headbands, inscribed in white with "#PrayForNewtown," for a donation of $5 at the end of January. He formulated the headband idea shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December as a way to continue to promote awareness about the tragedy while also raising money for the scholarship fund.
"At every basketball game, I wear a headband in the front row that says 'I Love UConn Hoops' on the front of it," Stypulkoski said. "I thought it was kind of like my way of switching up my little tradition for each game and using that as a tribute."
The outpouring of support for the Sandy Hook community by the men and women's basketball programs inspired Stypulkoski to take action. Following the tragedy, the teams added green and white "SH" patches to all uniforms as well as green ribbons to their warm-up suits. The men's basketball team specifically played a key role in the development of the idea.
"I saw all the guys on the team during warm-ups . . . were writing 'SH' or some sort of tribute on their shoes," Stypulkoski said. "Boatright wrote it on his cheek."
Stypulkoski decided to act on his desire to make a difference in a way that would catch the attention of anyone watching. With some initial contributions from his friends and a vendor willing to sell him 250 headbands at half the usual cost, he was able to start distributing them across campus as students returned for classes.
"My hope for it was that if people bought them, they could wear them at the games," Stypulkoski said. "They'd be sprinkled throughout the student section . . . like an awareness and unity kind of thing."
Dan Lazinsk, a 4th-semester history major, bought one of the headbands from Stypulkoski earlier in the semester. He saw it as a way to support a community he described as being "in great mourning."
"I wanted to support the fund put together by the university," Lazinsk said. "All of the lives that were lost, their siblings will be able to get an education at a top university."
Lazinsk also added that "if enough people heard about the headbands . . . there would be plenty of interest in them." He said that it is simply a matter of getting the word out to students who would not otherwise hear about it.
Stypulkoski projects that once the first batch of headbands is completely sold, he will have raised approximately $1200 for the scholarship fund. And, if the interest is high enough, he plans to contact the vendor again to discuss creating more headbands in order to continue raising support and awareness for Sandy Hook.
"It kind of depends on how quickly we sell these ones," Stypulkoski said. "If it's already halfway through the semester, we don't want to order a bunch more and then be stuck with them."
Stypulkoski hopes to sell the rest of the headbands at the remaining home basketball games, including the men's game Saturday against Villanova. He will be outside the XL Center in Hartford with headbands in hand until the doors open at 11:00 a.m.
Once the doors are opened, he will be found in the front row of the student section, cheering on the Huskies and wearing a green and white headband for the whole audience of the nationally-televised game to see.
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