Dublin Villager

Attempt to set record also helps feed children

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The Zip Tie Advisory Committee celebrates a successful fundraiser. Committee members (from left) are Hudson Ozello, Jackson Ozello, Chance Davis, Tom Ozello, Nick Spotts, Sam Gugliemotto, Keegan Graham, Mahalakshmi Srinivasin and Calsey Graham.
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Zip ties took Hudson Ozello to the principal's office, but also helped the rising Jerome High School senior raise more than $3,000 for a local charity.

Ozello set up two tents at Dublin Coffman High School on the Fourth of July to sell bundles of zip ties, raising money for Blessings in a Backpack and trying for a Guinness World Record for the longest zip tie chain.

The entire idea came about after Hudson took zip ties to school for a few pranks.

"We started zip tying back packs together as a prank," he said.

When the prank spread around the school and over to Coffman High School, Hudson was called into the principal's office, but he was already mulling over an idea to raise money with a world-record.

The idea was a winner and Hudson's effort to raise money for Blessings in a Backpack took off.

Blessings in a Backpack is a national organization, but locally feeds students at Chapman and Wright elementary schools on the weekends.

"Over half the school is on free and reduced lunch," Hudson said. "Sometimes there are students living out of cars.

"They're trying to get education, but it's hard to learn if you can't eat."

Once school was out, Hudson busied himself with getting permission to set up a tent at Coffman High School, finding sponsors and volunteers.

Finding sponsors was a major challenge for Hudson, but Roush Hardware came through with a donation of thousands of zip ties.

"You have to get out there and be polite and talk to people you don't know," he said.

Friends and family, including his mom Mary Kae and brothers Jackson and Tom, helped bundle ties, recruit others and man the tents on Independence Day.

"I'm amazed how coordinated high school kids were," Mary Kae said.

At the Fourth of July event, bundles of 20 zip ties were sold for $4 and people could assemble the ties that were later attached to form a chain by volunteers.

"Everyone has their own vision, so there was a lot of compromise," Hudson said of the process.

The rainy weather also proved to be its own challenge, but volunteers went to the crowds to sell zip ties.

"Our 9-year-old sister had a bullhorn and she was trying to sell (zip ties)," Jackson said.

"We had to go out into the crowd to get people," Mary Kae added.

At the end of the day, 10,709 zip ties formed a chain 2,277 feet long. The Guinness World Record required 5,000 ties.

Setting a world record carried several requirements. The entire day had to be taped on video, witnesses had to be on hand, in addition to a surveyor and notary.

Land Surveyor Kevin Baxter from Bird and Bull Land Surveying and Notary Teri J. Price donated time for the effort.

"I was surprised by how willing people are to help," Hudson said.

The zip tie chain that took Hudson and his brothers 90 minutes to roll up hasn't yet been certified as a Guinness World Record holder, but the Jerome student said he is considering repeating the effort next Independence Day for Blessings in a Backpack.

"We have enough zip ties to set the record again," he said.

"If we wanted to set the world record again next Fourth of July I think we could. We have the ties and the know how."

The experience has impacted the life of the International Baccalaureate diploma student and his future aspirations.

"I'd like to do something with leadership," he said. "I like the interaction of (fundraising)."

Donations for the local Blessings in a Backpack are still being taken and Operation Zip Tie T-shirts are still for sale.

More information can be obtained via email to Hudson at hudsonozello@live.com.

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