InDepth with Brad Byrd: Battle of the Fans

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Covid-19 has impacted every aspect of how we live. It’s also causing pain for our neighbors who suffer from poverty, homelessness and denied the basic human right to have food. Earlier today, Ben Trockman and Bill Bussing joined Brad Byrd for a candid conversation.

They and other community members are coordinating a fundraiser giving us a great way to donate to the covid-19 crisis response fund for the greater Evansville region. They are representing our universities and colleges with regional ties here in Evansville and there are many. It’s called the battle of the fans.

Full Interview

Brad Byrd “Bill and Ben, thank you so much for joining us. Bill, I want to start with you tell us how this competition, something that I haven’t really seen used in a website. fundraiser. how’s this going to work?

Bill Bussing: “Well, Brad, what’s really important people are several things in family, church, in school, so many people have really strong allegiance, either to their alma mater or just to a school that they follow. So we thought it would be a great opportunity to, in a fun way, raise some money for the COVID-19 response effort locally.”

Brad Byrd: And Ben, you contacted me to see if I would represent my alma mater Ball State University. And Lance Wilkerson is also a BSU grad. You put together Ben quite a team of fan bases here and you’ve got some great rivalries. So we’re going to be having some fun with this while supporting a great cause.

Ben Trockman: That’s right. There have been a lot of really incredible captains that have stepped up to represent their university. Honestly, it’s been a lot of fun getting to know as Bill and I have reached out to different folks related to their universities to learn who went where. That’s been a lot of fun of this. And I think there’ll be a lot of competition. There are a lot of built in rivalries between the 14 schools that are that are participating and there’s been a lot of fun trash talk, going back and forth, and we really enjoyed it.

Brad Byrd: And of course, Bill, the bottom line is the most important thing is that, as you well know, the people of the Evansville area are very giving in the best of times and in the worst of times and the money that’s being raised in this economic response in this crisis response fund, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s reaching people that are really struggling right now.

Bill Bussing: It is Brad. This is a three phase project. We’re trying to raise $6 million for relief, recovery and restoration. So as an 18 month, timeframe, and while we see people gradually getting back into the flow and going back to work, we’re nowhere near out of it. early efforts have focused on hunger relief, but now we’re moving into the recovery and restoration state. So there’s a lot more to go.

Brad Byrd: And Ben, of course, this particular effort is part of this gold to raise $6 million. Bob Jones of course has been very involved in this. Ben this is an effort to reach a $6 million goal, which is quite remarkable for a region to do that in such a short period of time.

Ben Trockman: It’s been incredible to see the support of the crisis response fund, and I’m pleased to be a part of the Battle of the Fans effort that hopefully adds a little extra enthusiasm. You know, Brad, I think what’s something that we should not forget is there’s already been three separate allocations that have been added, benefited over 30 not for profits within a five county region. And also, I’ve just just made it’s just been incredible. The the number is over $600,000 that’s been given to those 30 different or 30 plus different organizations. It’s incredible to see as you mentioned earlier, the resiliency, but the giving nature of our community members, and hopefully we can make it to that $6 million goal with without the fans that continue to spread, what the response fund does for organizations throughout our communities.

Brad Byrd: And we’re going to take a look at the website that’s been created to do this battleofthefans.us. And Bill, really, it’s pretty easy to donate on this. The logos of the schools are right there on the homepage. Walk me through that.

Bill Bussing: Well, we chose initially 14 schools that we knew had large alumni and fanbase presence in southwestern Indiana. It’s open to all people. We know there are many schools with graduates in southwestern Indiana. We’d like them to participate too. So it’s sort of a fun rival where we started with the 14, but all schools are welcome. It’s easy to click on. If you see your school, just punch the link. If not, send us a little message, and we’ll add your school to that website. And then you can pledge on behalf of the school, we hope. We hope that a lot more schools participate. We identified 14 team captains of schools with large presences in southwestern Indiana. But we know a lot of other folks who went to really good schools, where the alumni base that may not be large, but they’re really loyal fans and we invite them to participate.

Brad Byrd: Ben, what would you say to the people out there, you know, in these tough times about this particular fundraiser and basically giving in general these are indeed strange time, so why don’t we learn about ourselves in this?

Ben Trockman: I think you put it very nicely earlier, Brad, is that our community never ceases to amaze us when we need the ability or we need strength or we need finances. You know, there have been government mental programs that have unrolled and unveiled themselves over the past couple of weeks and months, out many different initiatives but not for profits right now, in the way that this crisis response fund is allocating funds is a gap. And that’s why Bob and Bill and Carl Chapman and many others have created this initiative to fund those that are not getting the funds that are in need. You know, we we sometimes think about, you know, right now, the regulations are relaxing a little bit on states and being able to get back out in the world. But that doesn’t mean that not for profits aren’t hurting, they’re not seeing as many clients are not able to bring all of their employees back and we need to support these organizations in the tough time so that in five years from now, we look back on this, those organizations are still there. So we appreciate your donation whether it is $50 or $500. We need your support. We know we can count on our Tri-State.

Brad Byrd: Well, Ben Trockman and Bill Bussing, thank you for all you do and thanks to all of the people involved in this and thank you for the invitation. We’ll do our best to make our own mounters proud and our fanbases proud in this effort.”

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(This story was originally published on May 29, 2020)

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