Zombies stalk their prey during Augie benefit

Posted Online: Oct. 05, 2013, 10:40 pm
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By Laura Anderson Shaw, landerson@qconline.com
ROCK ISLAND -- Guttural screams filled the Quad on the Augustana College campus Saturday afternoon, as bloody, mangled zombies stalked their prey.

Near the slough, a shaggy slough monster was in wait -- a shaggier, greener, faceless, more terrifying version of Big Foot.

Deeper into campus, off of a path through the woods, two identical Slendermen peered from behind trees in suits. Their faces weren't faces at all, really, but smooth, alien-like, shells.

Ghosts stuck around Bergendoff Hall on the north side of campus, while werewolves congregated near the softball field.

In between ran terrified Augie students and community members in search of elixir to cure the zombie outbreak, silver to fend off the werewolves and more to help prevent the impending apocalypse, all while dodging the monsters that were out for their blood.

OK, so it wasn't a real apocalypse. The zombies and other creatures of the night were Augie students in disguise, and the only lives being gambled with were in the form of streamers hanging from the students' waists like those in tag football.

It was Running Scared: Legends, the second annual scavenger hunt and charity event put on by Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theatre Honor Society at the college.

This year, the group raised money for the American Cancer Society, said Joshua Malone, an Augie senior from Cabery, Ill., and president of Alpha Psi Omega on campus, in an email before the event.

Some 50 students and community members formed teams for the event, paying a donation to join.

Mr. Malone said the group had raised more than $100 for the American Cancer Society. "It's exceeded what I was expecting to do," he said.

Since the students are very talented in the realm of theater, he said hosting an event around Halloween seemed like a "no-brainer."

"Plus, I myself am a huge horror fan and have been working in the haunted house business for nearly nine years now," he said, adding that he works as a cast member at Terror at Skellington Manor, in Rock Island.

Getting the event together for the first time last year was difficult, he said. There were many obstacles organizers had to overcome, and it only netted five participants.

Mr. Malone wanted this year's event to be different, so he started planning it during the summer, he said. The event was approved by campus officials, and, with help from the school's Student Government Association, Alpha Psi was able to track down quality costumes and materials for the event that the group can reuse in the future, he said.

"It's been amazing," he said, "especially since I am a senior this year, to see an event like this -- something that others and myself have worked very hard for -- succeed."

But after all of the planning and preparing, Saturday was time to just have fun.

Theresa Gansinger, an Augie freshman from Arlington Heights, said she worked on the promotional videos for the event, and came back for the real thing because "it was just cool."

She enjoyed it because it gave her the chance to "become someone who I wasn't."

Twin sophomores Luke and Michael Currie, of Aurora,silently hid in the woods in Slendermen costumes. Their eerie, white bulbs where their faces should be seemed to glow among the rich colors of the leaves around them.

"I'm a big theater guy," Luke said. "I enjoy it."

One of the hardest parts of the hunt for players was making it safely across the large Quad, where nearly a dozen blood-thirsty zombies were in wait.

Junior Grant Bell, of St. Cloud, Minn., and sophomore Brian Lovejoy, of Chicago, formed a team because they thought it would be fun,

"We're cross country and track runners," Mr. Lovejoy said, so "we thought we just had kind of an advantage."

Mr. Bell said he knew several of the theater kids who had set it up, and it "sounded like fun."

Another group slowly approached, and Mr. Lovejoy and Mr. Bell were quick to counsel.

"This is the anti-virus," Mr. Bell said, shaking a water bottle filled with green liquid.

Junior Josh Wielenga, of Apple Valley, Minn., shook his head. His partner, sophomore Sydney Crumbleholme, of Moline, said she was already out of "lives."

Mr. Bell and Mr. Lovejoy warned the two about the werewolves, and then the groups parted ways.

Ms. Crumbleholme said she was "really bad at running," but she joined the event because several of her friends were doing it.

Mr. Wielenga, who ran like the wind, was keeping the group safe, guarding the bright orange lives that dangled from his waist.

"I like zombie movies," he said. While zombies and the like aren't real, running from the monsters around campus was "as realistic as it can get."


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.

(More History)