Shinerama continues strong efforts

Almost every student at Wilfrid Laurier University that took part in his or her first-year Orientation Week remembers the final day of that week: Shine Day. Waking up in the early hours of that Saturday to cheer enthusiastically may not be a common activity for most university students, but many let their personalities out to raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis research.

The most recent Shine Day on Sept. 10, however, was the 50th anniversary. The first-years raised a total of $147,823.90 during the whole week whereas $112,229.61 was made on the actual day. This year’s figure is roughly $25,000 more than last year.

“The week went amazing we raised so much money and so much awareness,” said Josh Proksch, the co-ordinator for Shinerama this year. Proksch also said that some of the highlights for him were speeches made by Paul Enns, founder of Shinerama at Laurier, and by people who have suffered from cystic fibrosis.

“It puts a face to the disease, it really affects people and lets them [students] know they are making a difference,” added Proksch.

Students cheered, washed cars and asked for donations for most of the day on Saturday, while the Shinerama orientation committee spent the week organizing events such as barbeques and Shine Time.

While nothing really was changed from the Shinerama events of last year, Proksch explained that they, “didn’t add anything [new] but we made everything a little more bigger and little more fun for the first-years.”

Back in 1961, Paul Enns — a student at Laurier — what was then called Waterloo Lutheran University —set up Shinerama at WLU to raise money for a common cause, which at the time was raising money for the mentally challenged.

“What they called the initiation process in my freshmen year, was not a thrilling experience,” Enns told The Cord. “I thought, you know, if I’m ever in the position to do something about this, I’m going to make some changes.”

Enns noted that he had multiple objectives, other than just raising money, when setting up Shine Day 50 years ago. Among those were to give an opportunity for students to meet each other and to allow students to feel good about themselves.

“There was enough bad press about students and what they do, and with their drinking and all that stuff —we wanted a different focus,” continued Enns.
“We wanted people to feel really good about something, about what they are doing.”

Shinerama has now spread to 60 other schools across Canada and has become vital part of student involvement. While this year’s national total is yet to be determined, the overall total last year was over a million dollars.
The event has also become a strong tradition among the Laurier community and continues be an effective way to get students involved. Proksch is overall pleased with the outcome, and hopes that Shinerama continues to be as big as it is today.

“I’m so exhausted, but so happy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” he said.