After three years of Walk-A-Thons, Students Helping Honduras (SHH) caught the University of Mary Washington off guard last Saturday when the club handed the Walk-A-Thon to William and Mary to host its first ever volleyball tournament.
“It’s incredible, four years in a row,” said Shin Fujiyama, ’06. “Anything that involves competition makes it that much more exciting for everybody.”
Fujiyama, the founder and former president of SHH, gave a speech to kick off the Saturday events.
“I wanted everyone to know that these members work so hard,” he said. “They are the engine and backbone of this all, and I wanted to thank them. Especially Taylor Hall—he is my hero.”
Senior Taylor Hall is the SHH president, and has been working all year with SHH to reach their $25,000 goal for a new library in Honduras.
This was definitely the priority of my semester,” Hall said. “I think it’s the same for a lot of participants.”
Hall said that a majority of the work in fundraising and efforts were done before Saturday.
“The whole $25,000 campaign is a whole piece of work that you can’t see here,” he said.
Reserving Ball Circle alone took over a month.
Over 20 teams participated in the double elimination tournament.
SHH member, junior Emerson Aydstas, organized the brackets and team organization.
“We’ve had this library project since the beginning of this year, and we met our goal today,” Aydstas said. “It goes to show our students are still the most passionate. It is a small school in comparison, but we still generate that much money.”
Aydstas was born and raised in Honduras, and SHH was an important factor in his decision to enroll at UMW.
“I actually saw Shin on a television when I was at home,” he said. “I got more information, and that was my school. It was a perfect choice.”
Hall explained that the money will go toward building a library and community center building in the community in Honduras.
“We realized that just building a house wouldn’t make a community,” he said. “A library is a community center, and it is a place where everybody can meet and discuss.”
Because SHH doesn’t just want to hand the community everything, they developed a contract where each family pays a very small ownership fee.
“It’s a partnership,” Hall said.
The local band “Plain Jane and the Flaming Canines” played live music for the first half of the day, and students enjoyed free food, including sno cones and popcorn, all day.
Hall was a big fan of the sno cones.
“I have a rootbeer snowcone in my hand, so it can’t be bad,” he said of the day’s events.
Asked how he thought the day was going for his team, senior Ryan Hayden from Team 413 replied, “I’ll tell you after we win our first match.”
UMW police officer Janish was impressed by all of the students that came out for the tournament.
“They seem to be liking it,” Janish said. “They’ve got a regular crowd here.”
Freshman Kane Koshouty didn’t compete in the event, but came out to the green to enjoy the weather and watch his friends.
“It’s a really nice day,” Koshouty said. “It turned out really well.”
Koshouty commented that the volleyball tournament was a good idea.
“Two things going on as opposed to one is always better,” he said.
Sophomore Meg Dimaria created a team with six others from the Student Education Association.
“It’s an awesome effort,” Dimaria said. “What better way to promote education than through a library.”
She commented that the Fujiyamas’ speech at the start of the tournament inspired a lot of people.
“The tournament is a change, but its gotten a lot of teams to come together and promotes the unity we have,” Dimaria said.
Aydstas’ commitment to SHH and Honduras is motivated by his background.
“Knowing how it was to live without shoes, this is my opportunity to give back to my country,” he said.