Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Philanthrophic binge drinking

Just when you think you've seen everything, something comes along to remind you that the human imagination knows no limits. I couldn't possibly make this stuff up.

Yesterday, a colleague at the University of Nebraska forwarded a URL to me of a website advertising a "Crawl for Cancer"--a three hour bar crawl on October 27th in which 10-person teams are served twenty (20) pitchers of beer. At first, I thought it was a joke.

After a few minutes on their site and a little Googling, I realized that this was not a hoax. I got out my favorite online BAC calculator, and plugged the numbers in. Then, I sent the following email to the mysterious contact address at crawlforcancer.org:


From: Tom Casady
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 2:10 PM
To: 'info@crawlforcancer.org'
Subject: Who are you, what are you doing?

It appears you are sponsoring some type of event in our fair City which could potentially result in a violation of the law--serving alcohol to an intoxicated person. According to the promotional material on your website, the plan is for teams of 10 people to visit five bars over the course of three hours, and to consume four pitchers of beer at each venue--a total of 20 pitchers per team.

A typical pitcher of beer is 60 ounces. If 10 people in a team consume 20 pitchers of beer, that would be the equivalent of ten standard 12-ounce beers for each person (not counting any alcohol consumed at the "...after-party with entertainment and yep, more beer.") A 175 pound man consuming this volume over three hours would have a blood alcohol concentration of about .156% at the conclusion. A 125 pound woman would be .240%.

Since it's illegal to provide alcohol to a person who is intoxicated, I am somewhat concerned for the well-being of our local liquor licensees who are participating in this event. I am assembling as many of the owners/managers from the 11 bars listed as can be located for a meeting this afternoon to discuss these data with them.

So, before I start pointing this out to the City Council, the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, and the local news media, I'd like to give you the opportunity to explain yourself. I'm particularly interested in financial information: how are the funds which are collected allocated, and what percentage does your organization keep? There are no beneficiaries listed on your website for the Lincoln event. The tab for "Benefiting Charities" has a message: "Coming soon."

Our local and State chapters of the American Cancer Society are unfamiliar with your organization, and their director seemed somewhat shocked at the concept of promoting an afternoon of heavy drinking as a fund raiser for cancer. Do you have any specific information about who the beneficiaries are to be from the Lincoln "Crawl for Cancer"? Are there any administrative costs for operating your organization that are paid from the funds collected for team entry fees? Is there any other redeeming information about your organization you would like me to be aware of?

Tom Casady
Chief of Police
Lincoln Police Department
575 S. 10th Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
402.441.7237

Yesterday afternoon, my staff spoke with Samantha Green (the contact person on the website) to make sure she received this email, and I also left a message requesting a return call on the voicemail of the local contact person, Jennifer. I have not had a response from either.

The meeting with the bar representatives hastily called on Tuesday afternoon went well. I just shared the basic math of time, quantity and body weight with them. Some of the bar managers explained that the promoter buys the kegs and keeps the team entry fee to distribute to whatever charities the local sponsor chooses. This arrangement would also violate a couple of the rules and regulations of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission concerning multiple drink sales and resale of alcohol without a license. The Commission's director, Hobart Rupe, was there to emphasize that, and we had a brief discussion about how they could support charitable work without such risks.

In my conversation with the staff at the American Cancer Society, I learned that the ACS nutritional guidelines suggest no more than two alcoholic beverages daily for men, and one for women.

27 comments:

The bastard child of Gene Hunt said...

Sir, perhaps they can do a crawl for cirrhosis afterwards

Tom Casady said...

Update: I received the following response from Samantha Green to my Tuesday email.:


"Chief Casady,

It certainly is not and was not our intention to violate Lincoln ordinances. We simply hadn't encountered similar problems in other cities where Crawl for Cancer has taken place - Kansas City, Dallas, St. Louis, and Oklahoma City.

I would like to clarify a few things, although not significant to your concerns. Our event is structured so the Crawl is from 1:00-5:00pm. The after party starts at 4:00pm and runs until 8:00pm. Participants are not timed in any way and are not required to go to all 5 bars, or the after party. We also use 40oz. pitchers for our event.

Our organization has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer-related charities since its inception in 2001, a fact you're welcome to confirm with the Kansas City chapter of the American Cancer Society, Peg Carlson, Director (816) 547-5777. We're one of their biggest contributors. You might also consider investigating the charity recipients listed for any of the other cities on our website. If the absence of listed charities for Lincoln arouses your suspicion, the answer is only that we had made no decision on which Lincoln-area charities to benefit. We also pride ourselves that, because of our structure, we have less administrative overhead and retained earnings than any of the other well-known charities you might be familiar with.

However, our good intentions aside, if the event itself is illegal or even distasteful to law enforcement, then our record of giving is of little consequence. While we would have no regular reason not to be recognized by
the governmental groups or news media, your intention is understood and we will discontinue the effort to bring our event to your city.

Samantha Green
Crawl for Cancer"



After reveiwing her response, I sent the following:


Ms. Green:

Thank you for the reply. I am not the moderator of taste, I just don't want our local retailers to run afoul of the law.

I'm still curious about the percentage of the entry fee that actually ends up benefiting the yet-to-be-decided charities, particularly because the bars told me that they are not donating the beer, rather you are paying for it.

I'm glad you would be using 40 ounce pitchers. None of the bars mentioned that yesterday afternoon. Two 40 ounce pitchers over four hours would result in BACs of .093% for a 175 lb. man, and .143% for a 125 lb. woman--again, not counting the "after party." That's still well over the legal limit to drive, and I would still be concerned with local retailers knowingly allowing customers to consume this much. The potential civil liability would bother me, too.

My experience is that even if some members of a group won't drink much, there will almost always be someone else who views it as their obligation to ensure that no beer is wasted. So, while some drinkers may have lower BACs, it may be offset by others who are even higher.

Best Regards,

Tom Casady
Chief of Police
Lincoln Police Department
575 South 10th Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
402.441.7237

jenn said...

This has got to be the dumbest "charity" event I have ever heard of. That includes the episode of Seinfeld when George gives everyone a card that says he made a donation in their name to a charity he made up. Sure raise money for cancer, then have you die of liver failure or a car accident, or worse kill someone else in your DUI. Keep your crawl for cancer out of Lincoln, we have enough people drinking and driving!

Tom Casady said...

Help me out, readers. I thought a standard beer pitcher was 60 ounces, but Ms. Green advises that her event uses 40 oz. pitchers. I can't seem to find a barware supplier that markets such a pitcher. And does the pitcher depicted in this smoke-filled room appear to be 40 ounces? I'm not the expert.

Anonymous said...

60 oz is what we used to go through one after the other when I was younger and dumber.

Anonymous said...

10 member team, $35/head, 5 bars, 4 hours. $8.75 a glass. Must be the "good" stuff, ya think?

Anonymous said...

Google "crawl for cancer 2007 video" for a nice YouTube of this splendid event in Oklahoma City highlighted by a staple gun and some puke.

Not much info on crawlforcancer.org, looks like a couple of real geniuses came up with this money-making idea. I'll bet the charities get pennies on the beer-soaked dollar.

Anonymous said...

I recently participated in the St. Louis crawl and will be participating in the Kansas City crawl in October. The organizers of this event take precautions for people who drink over their limits. There are hotels nearby, with discounted rates for participants. Also, for donating 10 cans of food for a local food bank, you receive a $10 taxi voucher so that people are not driving. This event is a great fundraiser for wonderful charities and the organizers are responsible and thoughtful during every part of the crawl.

Anonymous said...

I imagine the American Cancer society might be surprised to see people in a smoke filled room raising money on their behalf. Kind of like beating your head against the wall to raise money for brain injuries.

Anonymous said...

Chief:

As a frequent reader and rare poster of your great blog I just couldn't let this one get by without contributing my 2 cents worth. Their entire concept is asinine AT BEST and I commend you for taking them to task. Last time I drove O St. at bar break (or the 2 hours before and after) the last thing we needed were more drunks. Thank you for taking a stand!

Anonymous said...

If crawl for cancer is the biggest contributor for the American Cancer Society in Kansas City then perhaps they need a new director. She obviously don't have a clue about fundraising.

Anonymous said...

One of your officers?




http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=152969220

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 4:45 AM:

I think not. The clues are in her profile and her blog. We haven't supplied any assistance to Pierre, SD, and I find no news links concerning prostitution in Pierre. She says she's waiting for a paycheck from PPD--presumably the Pierre Police Department. This is not how mutual aid works at all (you're paid by your own department), which makes me doubt that she is a police officer in some other city, either. A 22 year-old Lincoln police officer would be a veteran of one year, at the most, and would be earning a shade over $40,000 per year, not $60-75K. I note that the person who posted this profile hasn't logged in since May, and the other Lincoln friends are all 18 year olds.

This is supposedly a 5'10" white female police officer originally from Albany, NY who was 22 years old or so when this profile was created and living in Lincoln. No match.

You can be anyone you want on MySpace, as our Technical Investigations Unit demonstrates several times annually to middle-aged men looking for teen aged friends.

Anonymous said...

It's just like Tommy Boy to discourage someone from bringing their event to this city. Note, it didn't cause any problem in the "big" cities mentioned. Casady gets all nervous when someone wants to bring an event to this little hick town. I guess the city only needs the revenue when it's an event that measures up to Tommy Boy's ethics and morals. If we all believed and thought like Tommy Boy what a perfect place this little town would be.

Anonymous said...

If the fellow dont like this little "hick" town...MOVE. The vast majority of us dont care for drunks. Also, I found that site because I was looking for my daughters area and to see if she had one on here. Thanks for your response though, I was surprised to see you took the time to do so. It really is great to have a leader like you Tom.
brbk

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that binge-drunken yobbery was a pinnacle of high cultural development that "hick towns" just couldn't appeciate. Right up there with opera, ballet, and oil painting are the Buckfast Yobs.

Perhaps they could follow up with "Puking for Bleeding Ulcers" benefit after slamming all those pitchers.

Anonymous said...

Well pardon 'Tommy Boy' from enforcing the law and trying to head off possible problems that might arise from a bunch of idiots out getting drunk. (there's enough of that going on)

I think 'Tommy Boy' would not be doing his job if he realized there were going to be laws broken if this event takes place and not speaking up about it.

I think 'Tommy Boy' did the right thing.

Katherine said...

What is the harm in putting many people's weekend past times to good use and raise money? Drinking is something people will do anyways- if there is an opportunity to turn something negative into something positive you should do it.
I was putting together a team for Crawl for Cancer. I was not planning on drinking my fair share of the beer throughout the day and just because 2 pitchers at each bar were offered does not mean you have to take it. Bring Crawl for Cancer back!

Tom Casady said...

Katherine, that's FOUR pitchers at each bar--not two, 20 pitchers total for the entire team of 10. That's a whale of a lot of alcohol, but it's up to the bars whether they do this, not me. They can take their own risks if they so choose.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Katherine, although she misunderstood that it is four pitchers @ 40 oz. that is served at Crawls, she raises a good point. What is the harm in putting many people's weekend past times to good use and raise money? It is a positive spin on what everyone does every weekend!!

And...reliable sources state that you threatened to arrest the bar owners/close down the bars/and arrest the organizers of the event if the Crawl continued to occur. They didn't have a choice in the matter of doing the Crawl! Did you bother to share that information?

Tom Casady said...

Okay, I'm on to other topics, but if you want to keep organizing comments here, I'll keep sparring, 9:56 PM.

That's completely bogus.

First, 40 ounce pitchers my eye. I specifically asked the organizer where these 40 ounce pitchers come from (since I can't find any and the bars don't have any). No response. See the photo I posted in my comment above on Sept. 12. That's a normal 60 oz beer pitcher, and there's plenty of other photographic evidence on the web to document that itty bitty beer pitchers are not part of the picture. Google "crawl for cancer", click images, and enjoy.

Second, I told the bars what I told them: If you break the law by serving alcohol to someone who is already inebriated, we will enforce it. We already have, many times this year, and they know that. I made that crystal clear, as did the director of the Liquor Commission. If they want to run the risk of a violation and take the chance that they can control it, have at it and good luck.

The math speaks for itself. If you're the manager, you either have to cut people off when there is still beer on the table, or some of these team members will inevitably have BACs up in the range of .14% to .24%. There is no getting around that, unless the beer is not consumed. As other photos on the web will show, some crawlers don't confine themselves to the beer, either.

Let's face it. My title for this post is correct: Philanthropic Binge Drinking.

And third: You'll see that the organizers gave me no response to my question about how much of the proceeds go to cancer-related charities, from the total take. I think I know why, but I'd still be more than happy to receive such information, and compare it to the charitable organization guidelines developed by the Better Business Bureau, at give.org. Crawlforcancer.org does not appear to be a tax exempt 501(c)(3)under the IRS code, so their income, whatever it is, is taxable.

Since you are obviously an organizer or promoter of this event, or closely associated with same, why not identify yourself, anonymous, and just answer my questions straight up? Or, quit taking pot-shots at me, acknowledge that your fund-raising scheme is sort of ethically challenged, and slink off. The people who regularly read my blog won't mind, and I think I made my point quite effectively last week.

If you want, though, I'll keep making it.

Anonymous said...

Tom, I am a volunteer in another city, and $21 out of $35 goes directly to the charities...the rest is used for cost. No profit. Happy?

Anonymous said...

The ACS recommends 2-3 drinks per day. So if you don't drink Sun-Thurs, then it's fine to have 18 drinks on Friday.

And the charity is for CANCER, and you're trying to (or have) shut it down, therefore you took money away from helping people with cancer and finding a cure. Hence, you people are supporters of cancer.

Crawl for Cancer: I'll see you guys in New Jersey in September.

Anonymous said...

i think you all need to get a life. you are actually complaining about a group of people raising money for cancer. go worry about your own lives and stop butting in where you dont belong and have no idea what you're talking about. 10 beers is not a big deal. nobody will crash there cars driving either because theres nothing to crash into in Nebraska except corn fields and crop circles.

Thomas said...

There is a direct link between alcohol and cancer. The event undermines the cause. Not surprisingly, "supporters", and apparently staff (Ms. Green) believe the ends justify the means.

Ashley said...

You will encounter "BINGE" drinkers in every bar, of every town, of every county, of every state of this country and any other. People are always looking for an excuse to drink. I find drinking in support of finding a cure much better than drinking to a small Irish man with pointy shoes. You're going after the wrong target.
Crawls are popular in most colleges throughout the country. Start fighting the bigger picture before you pin-point groups such as this.
As law enforcement in your area, do you often go after the 13 year old smoking pot in his room or the 37 year old growing it in his basement??? Let's leave the mini-drama's alone and focus on the real problems.

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