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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies exude Selfless Service through The Big Event

Big+Event+opening+ceremony+on+Saturday%2C+March+25%2C+2023.
Photo by John Chapa

Big Event opening ceremony on Saturday, March 25, 2023.

On Saturday, March 24, students led The Big Event and worked together in various residential areas of Bryan-College Station to selflessly serve the community.

Created in 1982, The Big Event, also the nation’s largest one-day student-run service project, is an event that aims to give back to the neighboring community. Students served in residential areas by partaking in projects such as yard work and painting, bringing together Aggie students and the whole Bryan-College Station community.

The Big Event not only affected those who received service but also Aggie students, as they opened themselves up to helping others from different walks of life. Service projects like these are very important in not only serving others, but giving students a moment to be grateful for what they have said allied health sophomore and volunteer coordinator for Future Aggie Physician Assistants Callie Heeb.

“I think it’s really important, especially in the United States, to have projects like this because we have so many opportunities in the United States,” Heeb said. “I think we forget a lot of the times that not everyone has these opportunities. Especially as college students, we are blessed with all of the things that we have [like] the education system, and it’s really important to give back to those who maybe don’t have those opportunities. At our age, we have our goals and what we need to get done that day, [but] you need to look at the bigger picture and I think that’s a big goal of The Big Event.”

Participating in The Big Event extends beyond these simple acts of service. Students are able to engage and connect with residents and learn their life stories. Psychology junior Canaan Hatfield, and MSC OPAS Executive of Student Development, said in the past, he was able to learn the unique stories of different residents, allowing him to form a deeper connection with those he served.

“Last year, [we provided service for a lady by] raking her lawn,” Hatfield said. “However, her lawn had not been raked in over a year and a half because a COVID. So she had nobody around her and she was 84 years old having pancreatic cancer, I believe. Just learning her story, you know, it was great. She was very thankful just by us raking leaves out of her yard [and] she was talking about how much it was going to help her be able to walk easier in her yard.”

To begin the annual day of service, The Big Event hosted a kick off ceremony at Aggie Park. The ceremony included the opportunity for student volunteers to take pictures with Reveille X, enjoy free food and refreshments and view performances by dance teams Lil Wranglers, the Elite Wranglers and Fade to Black. At 9 a.m., the student volunteers gathered around the stage at Aggie Park to listen to various speakers touch on the significance of the tradition.

Big Event Executive Director and allied health senior Landry Rickabaugh spoke first and thanked the crowd for attending and, more importantly, volunteering. Selfless service is something in the hearts of Aggies that they are prone to execute, and there is a value in tradition that is extraordinary, Rickabaugh said.

“You might meet families today who desperately need the help, or assist a professor with something they need done,” Rickabaugh said. “I encourage you to take initiative, take wisdom from these people. Connection is why The Big Event exists.”

The Big Event was born from the creation of student leader Joe Nussbaum when he aspired to create a one-day service project for Texas A&M students to give back to the local community. When Joe was seeking to find a name for the day of service, inspiration struck as students asked at meetings, “Where’s this big event?” and “What is the big event?” The name has since stuck for over 40 years. President M. Katherine Banks said Nussbaum’s creation represents A&M in a truly inspiring way.

“The idea has spread to over 100 universities,” Banks said. “One Aggie and one act of Selfless Service has led to more than a million students contributing their time to help others. Today, 15,000 aggies at 2,000 sites in the Bryan-College Station community represent the best of Texas A&M.”

The majority of student volunteers certainly attended the kickoff ceremony to witness former A&M wide receiver Mike Evans deliver the keynote address. Evans played for A&M from 2011-13 and currently plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Evans has earned many accomplishments in his professional career, including over 80 touchdown receptions and a Super Bowl victory. Another great achievement of his includes three nominations for the Walter Peyton Man of the Year award. The award honors a pro football player’s commitment to philanthropy and making a difference in the community. His life changed for the better when he played for A&M, Evans said.

“Being an Aggie has taught me so much throughout my life and has instilled so many core values in me that I hold today and I try to raise my children on,” Evans said. “Y’all are off to the right foot. Doing things like this, always giving back and paying it forward means a lot.  I’ve accomplished a lot in my career … but I’m more proud of the things I’ve done off the field. You can accomplish a lot in your field, but it doesn’t matter if you’re not paying it forward and giving back.”

To learn more about The Big Event, visit their website.

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About the Contributor
Sydnei Miles
Sydnei Miles, Head Life & Arts Editor
Sydnei Miles is a communication sophomore and journalism minor from Houston, Texas. She began reporting for The Battalion in the fall 2022 semester covering culture and community events happening on and around campus. Since January 2024, Sydnei has served as The Battalion's head Life & Arts editor and previously served as the assistant Life & Arts editor for some of the spring 2023 semester and for the fall 2023 semester.
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