The 12 Mr. Spirit Contestants fight for victory. Image from Mr.Spirit Event Page
Mr. Spirit Draws Crowd, And Donations, For Those In Need
Mr. Spirit, an all-male pageant conducted by Texas Spirits, raised over $5,000 to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Saint Louise House. It featured male contestants from 12 UT organizations such as Communication Council and Texas 4000.
The annual event was designed by Texas Spirits in 2014 to benefit both the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Saint Louise House, the organization’s two main philanthropies.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to grant “wishes” to children who have life-threatening illnesses while Saint Louise House provides housing and other essential services to homeless, single mothers in Austin.
Mr. Spirit raises money through various fundraising activities, from ticket prices to “pranking” the contestant who donated the most.
Daisy Holland, a senior chemical engineering major and the Texas Spirits philanthropy director, recalls the deciding factor in joining Texas Spirits.
“Seeing the difference [Mr.Spirit] could make for Make-A-Wish and Saint Louise House” helped her decision, Holland said. Further, it helped create her “passion for wanting to raise as much money for their philanthropies as possible.”
Holland, whose introduction to Mr.Spirit was through performing in the event, was drawn to the creative way Texas Spirits raise money for their philanthropies.
Mr. Spirit consists of all the standards segments one would expect from a traditional beauty pageant, but with a few twists.
Traditional staples in beauty pageants, including the runway event to show off contestants’ physical appearances, are transformed into comedic segments.
Contestants race across the stage and compete for the audience’s laughter in various costumes—from Steve and Blue from Blue’s Clues to Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy from SpongeBob SquarePants.
Other segments include a talent portion, a dream-date description, a question-and-answer portion and the dreaded eliminations.
“Everyone wanted to win,” said Zachary Long, senior communication studies major and Mr. Communication Council for Mr.Spirit. “But we all formed a friendship.”
This was due to all the time spent rehearsing the event together, according to Long.
Members of each of the contestants organizations came to watch and cheer on their representatives as they vied to win one of the three main titles: Mr. Philanthropy, Mr. Congeniality, and the grand prize, the revered Mr.Spirit.
The judges of the event included Alejandrina Guzman, UT student body president, Kathrin Brewer, president and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and South Texas, and 14-year-old Bridget.
Bridget, a “wish” recipient, was diagnosed with cancer when she was 10 years old. She’s described by her friends as a “sticky ball of rainbow sunshine.”
Bridget spent her wish going to Atlantis with her family because “[the advertisements] said we could play with dolphins,” which helped her feel “amazing” and “so relaxed.” This allowed the audience to see the direct impact their donations were having on those in need.
With over $5,000 dollars raised, Mr.Spirit accumulated enough to fund an additional “wish” for another child in the future.
“That kind of impact,” Holland said, “fosters my drive to do this event.”