Soon after the Blue Devils’ season ended, team members began to promote the challenge. They shared videos on their Instagram account of Blue Devils sticking landings during competitions this season.
Athletes began promoting it in person too, including holding up a sign on campus and doing flips on the spot for anyone who would go to the Red Cross link on the Instagram account and donate.
The first week, nearly $600 was raised by the Blue Devils, including a $50 donation by Shadae Boone, a 2019 UW-Stout national champion.
Then, the Blue Devils challenged Division I schools the University of Minnesota and Long Island University and Division II West Chester University via social media. Those teams in turn challenged other teams, such as Cornell and William & Mary.
Gymnastics celebrities joined in. John Roethlisberger, a three-time U.S. Olympian and ESPN announcer for the meet, tweeted about the challenge. Former Olympian Chellsie Memmel, with 130,000 Instagram followers, posted about it. Roethlisberger and Memmel both thanked UW-Stout, Beaulieu said.
Roethlisberger, a former University of Minnesota standout and acquaintance of Beaulieu’s, also posted the UW-Stout team photo and challenge on the Instagram account for Flip Fest, a national summer youth camp in Tennessee, and again thanked UW-Stout.
Gymnastics programs at many more universities also jumped in, including Alabama, Stanford, Iowa, Temple, University of New Hampshire, Arizona State, UW-Eau Claire, Texas Women’s University, Bridgeport, Bowling Green, Fisk, Ursinus, University of California and defending national champion Michigan, Beaulieu said. The momentum built after she appealed to coaches on WhatsApp, a messaging platform, and schools challenged each other.
An Alabama volunteer assistant coach, Oleksii Koltakov, is a former Ukrainian national champion. The team was supporting him as he tried to get family members out of Ukraine. Alabama Coach Dana Duckworth posted the challenge with Albricht’s graphic.
Student’s graphic shared nationally
Albricht created the graphic quickly, with feedback from Beaulieu, so it could be part of the NCAA meet. He works as a photographer and graphic designer for Blue Devils Athletics, including for gymnastics meets.