Swine breeds success

In 1986, Edmond Memorial High School’s principal kissed a pig after the students raised an unprecedented amount of money for a good cause. Since that infamous smooch, the school’s students have raised more than $3.5 million for various charities, during the annual, appropriately named Swine Week.

 “They are truly passionate about Swine Week, and it’s the thing that everybody always talks about when the new school year starts,” said Josh DeLozier, EMHS student council sponsor.

Limbs for Life, a nonprofit organization providing prosthetic limbs for the uninsured, will be the recipient of the proceeds from this year’s Swine Week, which runs March 11-15.

DeLozier said Limbs for Life was chosen out of nearly 25 organizations because students recognized the chance to help a variety of people, ranging from children born without limbs to war veterans who lost theirs in overseas combat.

Several organizations and individuals have benefited from Swine Week since its inception. Back in the pig-kissing days, Swine Week was local and quaint; now, he said, it has blossomed into a well-recognized, public event, strongly embraced by the community, .

“It is no longer about these cute little kids doing this cute little fundraiser,” DeLozier said, noting that since 2010, nearly half a million dollars has been raised annually, with their biggest year garnering $527,000.

Among nearly 2,200 students attending EMHS, approximately 150 help with the planning and fundraising process, he said.

“The fact that kids can raise half a million dollars for charity is really incredible,” DeLozier said.

He attributes their success to the tradition and support behind it. The community’s alumni, parents and businesses rally behind Swine Week, which makes a huge difference.
Twenty events are planned for this year’s Swine Week, but the big, public ones scheduled include a Coffee Creek golf tournament and silent auction on March 2, and the inaugural Hog Jog 5K in Bricktown on March 9.

Swine Week also contributes to a “Common Thread” organization chosen collaboratively by EMHS and the district’s two other public high schools, Edmond North and Edmond Santa Fe. For this year, A New Leash on Life Inc. will receive 5 percent from each school’s fundraising proceeds. This Oklahoma-based organization trains different types of dogs to aid those with various disabilities, DeLozier said.

For more information, visit swineweek.org. —Rachael Cervenka