The group-burn of 21 people in the parking lot of Shooter's in Cleveland's Flats October 19th didn't just set a Guinness World Record and garner publicity across the globe, it raised $10,000 for charity.
Hotcards CEO John Gadd, who organized the event and was one of the human torches, presented checks yesterday to the Cleveland Food Bank and to a charity called Brick by Brick, run by the Rev. Mark Simone, youth pastor of Federated United Church of Christ in Chagrin Falls, and another one of the burners.
Simone said the money would be used in South Africa for school facilities for underserved kids and possibly to help fund a women's industry initiative.
After receiving the check at the headquarters of Hotcards, an online commercial printing and marketing business, Simone had an idea for the next event.
"We were thinking about skydiving on fire," he said.
Stuntman Ted Bachelor, who coordinated the technical aspects of the burn, nixed the idea immediately. "I don't recommend that. Fire and nylon together? Not good."
Scot Lowry, CEO of Fathom, presents a check to the Rev. Mark Simone for his charity, Brick by Brick. Hotcards CEO John Gadd is at left.
Gadd credited sponsors Fathom, an online marketing company in Valley View, and Consolidated Graphics, another commercial printing company, for stepping up with major sponsorships. National Safety Apparel, based in Cleveland, provided protective clothing and hoods after reading a preview of the event in Tipoff, he said. And Consolidated owner Ken Lanci, who is a candidate for Cleveland mayor, committed extra money on the spot when plans to burn on a piece of property abutting the Cuyahoga River fell through, forcing the event onto the Shooter's parking lot.
"He stepped up and just bought the bleachers we needed for the event," Gadd said.
Twenty-one people were set afire (the plan was 20, but there was an alternate who was dressed and ready, so he was added when no one dropped out).
In addition to setting a record, raising money for charity and having a fun event, the stunt accomplished Gadd's goal of getting publicity for Hotcards.
"It was all over. You almost can't name a network it didn't hit," he said. "It was on Good Morning America, the Today show."
Added Simone: "A friend of mine read about it in Nairobi."
The flaming skydive is out of the question, but Gadd said he's thinking already thinking about the next event.