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Pokémon Go Cookout, Fundraiser Promotes Mental Health Awareness

The Pokémon Go Cookout for Mental Health Awareness received over $600 in donations and was attended by approximately 130 people Sunday, Sept. 18 at Laurel Park in Conway.

The fundraiser ran from 4-7 p.m. and was held by UCA alumnus Elijah Lovan. Rebecca Stallman, also a UCA alumna, helped plan the event.

“It was quite a process, we had a lot of ideas but something would happen and we’d have to adjust, Stallman said. “This past week we had a lot of late nights getting everything together, but we were working really hard on it.”

Daniel Byrd, junior, Brandon Beasley, 22, and Brandon Hood, a local Nintendo representative, also helped with the fundraiser.

The idea behind the event was to raise money for charities focused on mental health awareness while using the popular Nintendo gaming app, Pokémon Go.

Lovan said the idea behind the fundraiser was to have the three teams featured in the game, Valor, Mystic, and Instinct, battle to see who could hold the Gym at Laurel Park the longest.

Team Valor won the competition, giving their charity, Project Wake Up, 50%of the money from the fundraiser. Mystic came in second giving their charity, Youth Move, 25% of the funds raised. Instinct in third was also able to give 25% of the profit to their charity, Bridgeway.

Lovan came up with the idea for the fundraising event in July shortly after Pokémon Go was released.

“I suffered from depression last summer and I played Pokémon as a form of catharsis,” Lovan said. “I read this article about a few people who had anxiety and depression and Pokémon Go was helping them. I thought that was really cool so I started talking to [Stallman] and she and I got the idea of hosting a fundraiser and cookout to raise awareness.”

The event gave away free food and held a silent auction featuring “Nintendo swag” provided by Hood, Pokémon-themed art from community artists such as Lauren Swaim, junior, Hannah Lemke, and Rebecca Billy.

Gift certificates were also provided from many local sponsors, including Mike’s Place, Larry’s Pizza, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, CiCi’s Pizza, Tropical Smoothie, US Pizza Co., Marketplace, Outback Steakhouse, Cross Creek, Logan’s Roadhouse, Quiznos, Fish House, Zaxby’s, Patti Cakes and Conway Family Bowl.

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Faculty and Staff Feature: Monica Lieblong

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