1861 Challenge Raises More than $125k

On Oct. 18-19, SUNY Oswego celebrated its 155th birthday with a 1,861-minute challenge, paying tribute to the year of the college’s founding by Edward Austin Sheldon.

Over the course of the approximately 31-hour event, SUNY Oswego supporters rallied to meet the challenge of an anonymous donor who agreed to donate $25,000 if 600 people made a gift. By 6 p.m. on Oct. 19, the college had surpassed the 600 donors and secured the gift.

Then with only 180 minutes left, Engineering Advisory Board Member Keith McDermott ’81 issued a new challenge to keep the momentum going. He said he would donate $10,000 if 81 more people made a gift before the time expired.

By the end of the challenge, a total of 712 donors had raised $125,855 for The Fund for Oswego. The challenge helped create excitement among SUNY Oswego supporters who took to Facebook and Twitter to rally their friends to make a gift.

After making her gift, Kelly Barnard Cullinan ’94 posted to Facebook: “#1861Challenge #OswegoPride Dive in and help Oswego State rise to the challenge. Oswego State Swimming is where my support is going in honor of my 1990s teammates. ‘Great times’ in and out of Laker Pool!”

Among the supporters of the 1861 Challenge were 51 new donors, 108 Graduates Of the Last Decade (GOLD) alumni, 162 donors who hadn’t made gifts in the past year and one who hadn’t made a gift to the college in 26 years. The challenge even included a donor who made the gift from the other “Land of Oz,” Australia.

“This challenge really energized our donor base,” Director of Development/ Campaigns Melissa Manwaring ’01 said.

“The interactions on our social media platform gave us an opportunity to raise awareness of The Fund for Oswego and all the wonderful scholarships, programs and experiences it supports. We are very grateful to have such engaged ambassadors and supporters of the college. They make this college what it is—an exceptional educational institution and caring community of learners.”

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