POTSDAM - A Clarkson University student group is seeking help from area college and high school students, as well as community members, to set the U.S. record for a lap-sit circle.
The college's Leadership Corps hopes to raise money for the American Cancer Society by gathering at least 4,000 people on campus, lining them up in a circle - and having them all sit on each other's laps.
"Everybody is supporting everyone else, so the weight is distributed evenly," said sophomore Kallie J. Desmond, who is helping to organize the event. "It's fun while you're doing it, and you get a real big sense of accomplishment."
To set up a lap-sit, participants stand in a circle facing each other, then turn in one direction. At the signal, they all sit on each other's knees at the same time with their arms out. The challenge is to trust each other enough to sit all the way down without squatting, Ms. Desmond said.
"If you don't sit back completely, it's like a domino effect and all of the weight goes on you," the biomolecular science major said.
Daniel J. Davis, Clarkson's wellness coordinator, has organized lap-sit circles of nearly 2,000 students before. But now the Leadership Corps wants to break the U.S. collegiate record of 3,333 people by getting 4,000 participants.
"It's a challenge, getting 4,000 people together on campus. But it's doable when you have a core group of students with a similar vision," he said. "It's just unbelievable what the students are learning behind the scenes to pull off an event like this."
Clarkson students have estimated that they'll need room for a circle a half-mile in diameter to pull off the lap-sit, so they plan to use the fields surrounding the college's soccer complex near the Cheel Campus Arena.
Ms. Desmond said that the Leadership Corps has already signed up more than 300 Clarkson students in the past few days, and now the group is seeking help from community members and students from nearby high schools and the other three St. Lawrence County colleges.
"People are really skeptical that you are able to do this at first, but you can," Ms. Desmond said. "Plus, you'll have helped out a really good cause and maybe set a record at the same time."
The Leadership Corps originally wanted Clarkson President Anthony G. Collins to call "1-2-3 Sit!" to start the lap-sit, but he decided to get into the circle himself, Ms. Desmond said.
The last time that Clarkson tried to break a lap-sit record, it teamed up with SUNY Potsdam to have 1,968 students complete a circle in 1977.
Mr. Davis said that he wants to get a helicopter to fly a photographer over the event to capture the latest attempt.
"This is quite an undertaking, but we've already had alumni asking about it, so holy smokes, it's going to grow," he said.
The Leadership Corps wants to sign up all participants ahead of time. It will charge $1 for every person who turns out, and will also sell T-shirts for $10. A free lunch sponsored by Aramark, Clarkson's campus dining service, will be included. All proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society.
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