John Strope Spray Paint

John Strope spray paints outside of the Nebraska Innovation Studio on Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

It was late at night after a rough week of finals when John Strope, a junior mechanical engineering major and president of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Theme Park Design Group, came across a video for Give Kids the World Village.

The video left him teary-eyed, and he knew he wanted to help the organization. When he sent it to the rest of the group members, they agreed. 

Now, the group is building a six-hole putt-putt course for a fundraising event they are hosting Give Kids the World Village, a nonprofit resort in Florida that provides vacations for children with critical illnesses.

Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the event will be rescheduled, but the date has yet to be determined. 

Even after researching other organizations, Strope said the group chose Give Kids the World Village because they thought it was the best fit for their project. 

The Theme Park Design Group decided on a fundraiser because of the success of the giraffe project they did with the Lincoln Children’s Zoo last year, which involved making toys for the new giraffes, Strope said.

“We got a lot more attention from that then we’ve ever had before,” he said. “This semester we wanted to capitalize on that and try to do something that was more community-focused.”

And the group has control over the project, according to Pin Hao Cheng, a senior mechanical engineering major and treasurer of the UNL Theme Park Design Group.

“The good thing is we have the freedom to do whatever we want,” he said.

The group is using materials like plywood, frosted plexiglass, 3D printed glass and artificial turf to build the different holes, Cheng and Strope said.

The diversity of majors and interests in the club is helpful when designing each putt-putt hole, Strope said.

“The whole point of this club is to create an environment that mirrors the professional world, in themed entertainment and outside of themed entertainment,” he said. “So, having that blue sky process where creatives are working on big-scale ideas and coming up with cool features and themes that we can integrate into these holes.”

Strope said the group’s projects focus on learning how to work with different kinds of people. 

“In the real world, it’s not gonna be that I’m the engineer and my client is also an engineer and my boss is also an engineer and everyone speaks the same language,” he said. “We’ll have some different projects where we might be working with some art people and some engineering people and some business people.”

The fundraiser will be held at The Bay, a local coffee shop in Lincoln. Strope said the putt-putt course is the main focus, but the group is planning to have other activities as well. 

“It will be a whole night of putt-putt, music — we’ll have some food trucks, all that type of stuff,” he said. “It’ll be a good time.”

Strope said the group visited with kids who hang out at The Bay to teach them about the process and work on ideas with them. He said he wanted the kids to be involved with the project. 

“We just kind of came up with some cool ideas with them and talked about how it might fit together,” he said.

To combat the costs of building, Cheng said the group has been gathering sponsors. The sponsor that achieves the highest tier of sponsorship will have a hole dedicated to them, he said. However, Strope said the group is trying to minimize costs.

“These putt-putt ideas look grand, but at the end of the day, every dollar we spend on a hole is a dollar that isn’t going to our cause,” Strope said. “We’re trying to keep this whole event centered as much as possible around Give Kids the World and the work they do.”

This article was modified at 3:08 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, to change the date of the fundraising event from May 1 to TBD.