TSU Athletes Participate in World Record Project

    The Texas Southern Tigers chipped in to help some transplant patients accomplish a world record feat.

    Student-athletes from TSU got on board to build a record breaking 5-story balloon sculpture of a space shuttle orbiter complete with rocket boosters and external fuel tanks. The one-third scale balloon sculpture was designed by Larry Moss with Airigami.

    “There are approximately 30,000 balloons that will go into this project,” Moss said. “We enjoy this art form and our goal here is make sure that everyone has fun.”

    Moss and his staff supervised nearly 300 volunteers over a four day period to create the 54 sections of the space shuttle orbiter.  The Texas Southern crew worked on the external fuel tanks, the largest section in the project and parts of the orbiter.

    Blowing up and connecting the balloons proved to be simple but challenging.  “I was scared of popping the balloons when I started,” said TSU track and field student-athlete Ciara Menifee.  “I got the hang of it after a while then it got easier.”

    “I’m glad I could help build the shuttle for the transplant game athletes,” said TSU football player Fred Plummer.

    “The kids are really enjoying themselves,” said softball head coach Worley Barker. “We like to participate in projects like this.  It allows us to give back to the community and be part of something special.”

    The balloon sculpture was the center piece for the Transplant Games of America opening ceremony at 7:30 pm on Saturday, July 12 in front of BBVA Compass Stadium, home of the Texas Southern Tigers football team.

    Each section of the 60 foot structure will be paraded from the George R. Brown Convention Center two blocks to BBVA Compass, hoisted by a crane and assembled by volunteers.  Once the kickoff is complete, the volunteers and spectators will participate in the “popping party” at 9:45 pm.

    “This is when volunteers get to see their hard work go out with a bang,” said project coordinator Suzanne Haring. “As an incentive, coupons worth $100 were put in 10 balloons and the people who find those balloons get to keep the cash.”

    The Texas Southern students who participated in this project were football players Fred Plummer and Malik Cross, women’s track and field athletes Jasmine Brooks and Ciara Menifee, softball players Adreana Casares and Sammantha Jimenez and head coach Worley Barker, women’s basketball players Morgan Simmons, Brianna Sidney, Alexus Johnson and Dana Jones, women’s volleyball player Alexia Thomas and men’s basketball player Christian McCoggie.

    The Transplant Games are held at various facilities around Houston.  The athletes will compete in events like track and field, trivia, basketball, ballroom dancing, swimming and tennis just to name a few.

    The Transplant Games are intended to highlight the cause of organ donations and lifesaving transplants.  There will be an estimated 2,000 athletes participating.

    The completion runs through Tuesday, July 15.