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Pie-Throwing Raises Pennies and Dollars for American Cancer Society

By: Diane Stirling
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  iSchool Professor David Molta takes a pie to the face to raise money for the American Cancer Society. [More Pictures]
The stage was set: the outdoor plaza of the School of Information Studies (iSchool), on the Quad.

The drama was building: 100-plus students, staff and faculty had gathered around.

The moment had come: it was time for the public pie-ing of a professor and a staff member, stunts to raise funds for the Syracuse University Relay for Life, to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The event, organized by Julie Walas, director of undergraduate recruitment at the iSchool, drew an enthusiastic audience. They learned that the most “popular” professor of five who participated was David Molta. His popularity award? A whipped cream pie in the face, at the hands of Walas, with the whole crowd watching.

When the moment came, Julie didn’t hesitate; the pie came swiftly.  For his willingness to be involved in the pie-throwing fundraiser, Molta raised $81.68 from students and others who were invited to join the “penny wars” portion of the event.  Next highest in raising funds was Professor Jeffrey Rubin, whose supporters contributed $62.95. Professors David Dischiave and Anthony Rotolo ended up getting $53.38 and $38.40 put into the pot, respectively, in their names. Professor Susan Bonzi’s piles of coins added up to $15.26. Those penny wars funds, along with some other contributions, raised $256.67 for the effort.

Then, for added excitement, the tables were turned. It was Walas’ time to stand on the plastic and wait to receive pies in the face.  The “pie Julie” portion of the fundraiser put together another $165.00, bringing the fundraiser’s total to $421.67.

Instead of just one, Julie endured four or five assorted whipped cream pies. Some slushy and thin, others were high and fluffy.  Students and others contributed various amounts for the opportunity to put them in her face, and they stepped up one after the other to do so.

The crescendo came when the last pie-thrower, Julie’s fiancé, Binh Huynh, provided a special performance – and a whopping $40 contribution for the chance. With a tall-in-the-center tin of fluffy white stuff, he planted a big smooch smack on Julie’s lips first – then planted her face with the pie, smushing around for several seconds, for special effects.  The crowd roared and hooted in approval.

As for Molta, Julie said she wanted to thank him for being a real supporter and helping to draw a lot of students for the event. “It was very satisfactory, I got a lot of satisfaction” out of pie-ing the professor, she laughed. And Molta joked back, “Sometimes it’s very difficult to be popular. It was a lot of fun and I’m really appreciative of all the students’ efforts. They put a lot of work into this for a good cause.  He noted that although he “did request coconut cream,” he didn’t get it; and that he had come prepared with an extra shirt.

For Julie, the best pie of all (if there is such a thing as a best pie in the face) was the “double pie by Matt Evangelisti supported by Sam Morrison, and Max Greeberg. The worst one she got? “The one that was dropped on the ground first.”

If you missed the fun, Julie says she’ll be back next year. “This was great. My goal for next year is $500,” she mused.

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