The University of Michigan football program is known for drawing crowds of more than 100,000 fans to Ann Arbor every Saturday to cheer on the Wolverines. Last Saturday, both Michigan and Michigan State fans flooded the city for one of the biggest in-state rivalries in the country. Much to our surprise, the game even drew Representative Eric Cantor, the majority house leader, all the way from Virginia to don his maize and blue.
The night before, our ONE at the University of Michigan chapter received a tip from ONE headquarters in DC that he would be appearing at a small, tailgate-style campaign event for Mitt Romney for a short window of time. We were asked to snag a picture and tell him about ONE. The next day, wearing our ONE shirts and carrying extra ONE bands, we set off for the stadium to find the tailgate.
After wading through thousands of Michigan and Michigan State fans, we finally spotted the tailgate tent and quickly got in line to meet with the congressman. While waiting, we could hear the buzz of football fans mixing with the chatter of constituents waiting to meet Rep. Cantor, and we realized how everyone surrounding us was equally excited to represent their team. It made us proud to be wearing our ONE gear and representing our “team,” the millions of people living in extreme poverty, and advocating on their behalf during the most chaotic game day (and one of the most chaotic political times!) of the year.
When it was finally our turn to meet with Representative Cantor we only managed to get out, ”Hi we’re from the-” before the congressman finished our sentence: “The ONE Campaign! I’m glad to see you guys are here!” He mentioned that a few ONE members were in his office earlier this year, and he was really impressed with the work that we do. He also said that he’d lost his ONE band, but being well-prepared advocates, we gave him a new one that he was happy to wear.
After posing for a picture he shook our hands saying, “Thank you for all the hard work you guys do at ONE. Go Blue!” It was a great moment to see a well-known politician wearing our school colors while sporting a ONE band in support of our mission and goals. And while we did win the game that day (12-10), we feel like we also won a little victory for the world’s poorest. Go Blue!
-Mary Kate Cartmill and Jessica Branski, ONE members, Ann Arbor