Skip the Clip: National Bow Tie Day Fundraiser

Skip the Clip: National Bow Tie Day Fundraiser

Donald D. Owen is Superintendent of Urbana School District #116 in Urbana, IL. You can follow him on Twitter at @dowendo. Also, learn more about Skip the Clip in 2015.

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When a friend asked me to teach him how to tie a bow tie, I was hesitant and perplexed. He then said that he and his friend would write a check to my school district to help support students, if I taught them how to tie a bow tie. The idea was hatched about a week before National Bow Tie Day, 2014. I had never organized a fundraiser, and I while I love challenges, I was very unsure of my ability to teach anyone how to tie a bow tie. There are hundreds of people on YouTube who could do a better job.

Related: 10 Ways to Celebrate National Bow Tie Day

In less than a week, I launched a really lame social media campaign to advertise “Skip the Clip: Learn how to tie your own bow tie” – just in time for National Bow Tie Day on August 28, 2014. I chose the Greg Chew Theatre Scholarship, because Greg was a friend and mentor to many students and teachers. He invested so much of his life to Urbana High School and Urban School District, that I wanted to help reach the goal he set before he died of cancer last May. He wanted to create an endowed scholarship for students at Urbana High School to have not just opportunities, but encouragement, and financial support to pursue acting, set design, theatre, and musical theatre in post secondary settings. Endowed scholarships are hard to achieve in these economic times, but with Mr. Chew’s memorial request being donations to the scholarship fund, we are working in the right direction.

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We held the event on the Monday (August 25) before National Bow Tie Day. I started with some background about Mr. Chew and the Greg Chew Theatre Scholarship, and then launched into a very fast PowerPoint about the history of the bow tie.

The Bow Tie Event was small, which was good. We had 12 people show up. I invited two high school students to help out. My favorite moment was when I first started demonstrating, and everyone in the room started to imitate me without the aide of mirrors. We all got to the tricky “thread the loop through the hole” part, when I realized that no one was looking in mirrors. I was amazed that one or two of my beginners actually were able to tie a bow tie by the time the hour was over.

I did show them some of my favorite YouTube clips – some serious and some hysterical. The comedic clips were that much more fun after the group had collectively struggled (and some succeeded) with tying the perfect bow tie.

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The event itself raised $750. Social media landed me a sponsor of TheTieBar.com, which donated some ties and pocket squares that I raffled off. The big success was the local media coverage (WCIA and The News-Gazette), which generated interest in the Chew Scholarship.

I received several calls and emails from people who read the paper or saw the television news coverage who indicated that they were going to contribute.

I had so much fun, that I think I will make it an annual event. Good cause, great fashion statement, and lots of laughs.