Students pitch event ideas to Susan G. Komen


Illustration: Brandi Boyett/Iowa State Daily

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Its icon, the pink ribbon, expresses support for those who have been affected by cancer in the past. 

Jenna Hrdlicka

ISU students taking the event management capstone class this semester placed finishing touches on pitches to be presented to representatives of non-profit organization Susan G. Komen this week.

The organization’s historically successful Race for the Cure event took place in Des Moines on Oct. 3.

Event management students taking the capstone course, EVENT 471, “Special Events Coordination,” will pitch ideas Wednesday for potential events that Susan G. Komen can choose to use in the future.

The students, who were grouped into teams of six to eight people, were given an overview of the organization at the beginning of the semester. This overview included both the mission of the organization and past events the foundation has carried out.

The students then spent the next eight weeks using event management concepts discussed in class, such as budgeting, event strategy and sponsorship to organize new event ideas that could benefit the organization.

The students created their events based on the criteria that their ideas must be practical for the company and could have the potential to be implemented in the future.

“We met as a group a lot and planned all parts together, but we each focused on a certain area,” said Kelsey Roberts, senior in marketing. 

Her group’s pitch, an event called Paint the Town Pink, is a fundraising event where people get to paint on small canvases through the form of finger painting, paint balloons, et cetera. Combined, the canvases create a piece of artwork that will then be auctioned off to raise money for the organization.

“It’s challenging to plan an event, to consider all aspects. It was a pretty awesome real-life project,” Roberts said. “A lot of projects that I’ve done in the past I have been able to pretend here and there, where as this one I had to really think seriously, in real life, about every single part of it.”

After hearing the students’ pitches, the organization representatives will take the concepts, modify them if needed and possibly use them to help further the reach of their mission.

Susan G. Komen educates the public about breast cancer, funds research to end the disease, provides support for victims and family members and much more. Using events to raise money and broaden its reach allows the company to strengthen its fight against the disease and increase the effectiveness of its mission.

Eric D. Olson, assistant professor of apparel, events and hospitality management and teacher of this course, said the skills students learn by completing this assignment include team work, professionalism, communication, event pitches, timelines/deadlines, working with a client and understanding of higher event management concepts.

Planning events and pitching their ideas to representatives allows students to take the knowledge they have learned in their courses and apply it to a real-life situation.

The students must both present their ideas and submit a written report for the class. One team will be chosen by the representatives of Susan G. Komen as the “winning team.”

That team will receive bonus extra credit points. Friendly competition, combined with the chance to have its ideas chosen to help the organization raise money and increase cancer awareness, provides incentive for the students to create effective event ideas.

Olson has used this assignment for many semesters. He has used partnerships with various types of businesses in the Ames area, including non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses and small businesses.

“I try to partner with an organization that students are familiar with and have heard of before. Ames and Des Moines provides a plethora of great organizations to partner [with],” Olson said.

Capstone courses allow students to combine all the knowledge they learned in previous courses and prove they are ready for a career in their chosen field of study. The student presentations will show off the students’ knowledge of planning events to help businesses grow and become more successful.