July 9, 2020

Sleepless in Kendall: Lavathon goes the distance

To most people, staying awake on energy drinks and C-store snacks for 24 consecutive hours in the basement of Kendall Hall doesn’t sound too appealing.

But for WTSR station manager Pat Lavery, sleep-deprivation was a small price to pay in order to honor the memory of senior communication studies major Matthew Wasser and help out the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation in the process.

Part of the money raised from WTSR’s second annual Lavathon, a 24-hour broadcast hosted from midnight on Oct. 25 to midnight on Oct. 26 by Lavery to raise money for the station, went to the foundation. Wasser, an avid Yankees fan, died on Oct. 21 when the taxi he was riding in was struck by a drunk driver.

“That’s a charity that I knew he cared a lot about,” Lavery said.

The money raised by Lavathon ’07 was originally going to go to WTSR, as it did last year. However, when Lavery heard about Wasser’s death, the news hit him hard and he wanted to do something in memory of his friend and fellow communication studies major.

Lavery said the decision to divert some of the earnings from the Lavathon to the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation was made the day before the broadcast at WTSR’s board meeting.

“There are a lot more important things than buying new speakers,” Lavery said of the decision.

As of press time, WTSR had raised over $500.

Patrick Hall, operations manager of WTSR, said the decision to donate money in honor of Wasser was unanimous among the board members. “We think this donation will be a respectful and fitting way to honor his life,” he said.

“I think the decision to donate some of this money to Matt is an awesome idea,” Jeff Rupert, WTSR program director, said. “We really do care about everyone here at WTSR, past, present and future.”

To prepare for the ordeal, Lavery said he got plenty of rest and took a short nap before starting the broadcast on Wednesday night. He also brought along plenty of fuel to keep himself awake and alert.

His secret ingredient: water.

“For me it’s a lot of mind over matter,” he said. “Energy drinks are a luxury but not a must. The secret ingredient is water.”

As of about 4 p.m. on Thursday, roughly 16 hours into the marathon, Lavery’s secret ingredient seemed to be working for him. He said at that time that he was in good spirits and felt certain he’d have no problem finishing out the 24-hour broadcast.

“I really do have to give Pat Lavery a ton of credit for doing the event again this year,” Hall said. “I can’t imagine staying on-air for 24 hours, and I think this just goes to show how dedicated he is to the station.”

Other than water, Lavery said part of what kept him alert throughout the broadcast was the various special events that occured.

The most exciting, Lavery said, was when he got to interview Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times about his new book. Plaschke sometimes appears on ESPN’s “Around the Horn.”

“It went fantastic. He had us in stitches,” Lavery said. “That really put not just me but everyone around the station in good spirits.”

People who donated $1 had their name announced on-air. Those who gave $2 got an on-air shout out. For $5, the donator received an instant song request, but for $10, donators were able to choose and dedicate a song.

Though this was Lavathon’s second year, Lavery said it was still a learning experience for him and the rest of the station’s staff. He said while he was better prepared to stay up for 24 hours this time around, he wished the station had set clearer fundraising goals in anticipation for the event.

Still, he hopes to see Lavathon continue in future years and even said he plans on going another 24 straight hours in the basement of Kendall next year.

WTSR will be collecting donations for the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation until Nov 14. To donate, students should mail cash or checks payable to:

WTSR c/o: Lavathon
Kendall Hall
The College of New Jersey
2000 Pennington Road
Ewing, N.J. 08628

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