Paper Airplane Contest Takes A Flight To Another Direction While Supporting Charities

It’s a day with beautiful weather, an event with a great cause and a reason to get out of the office.

Who knew that it would end up with a towed car and a plastic airplane winner for a paper airplane contest?

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and College of Health and Human Performance held the annual paper airplane contest between the colleges at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The cost was $5 per paper airplane entry, according to the flyer. All proceeds went to the UF Campaign for Charities, which includes 95 different charities.

First-place prize for the farthest flyer was two tickets to Universal Studios and a two-night stay at the Holiday Inn & Suites across from Universal Orlando. First place prize for the most creative plane was a two-night stay in Key Largo at Baker’s Cay Resort and four tickets to Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta, Georgia.

The event featured celebrity judge, Steve “Head Ball Coach” Spurrier, ambassador for the Florida Gators Athletic Department and former Florida quarterback.

Forty-nine people entered the competition located in the ramp between the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and the Florida Gym with planes decorated in various ways, such as the shape of a Gator or themed to Mr. Two Bits.

Emily Wong, a 19-year-old applied physiology and kinesiology sophomore took home first place for the most creative plane. Wong had made her Mr. Two Bits-themed plane the night before with her mentor, Alfeil Felipe, a 21-year-old senior majoring in APK.

“I decided to dedicate this project and this contest to Mr. Two Bits so that way I’ll always remember this moment, and we’ll always remember Mr. Two Bits,” Wong said. “We made a bunch of memories. That’s all that matters.”

While making the plane, Felipe’s car got towed with a $100 fine. He laughed as he said this and said he was happy that it at least came with a trip to Key Largo.

Alfeil Felipe and Emily Wong, winners of the most creative plane, stand with their Mr. Two Bits-themed plane. (Photo: Stephany Matat)

The event began with UF College of Health and Human Performance Dean Mike Reid introducing Spurrier and thanking everyone for coming.

“It’s the highlight of my year,” Reid said. “It’s fun for a good cause.”

After judging the creativity of the planes, Spurrier stepped down from the ramp and went to the bottom of the area over the ledge of the ramp. The contestants threw their planes from over the ledge.

However, the winner of the farthest distance did not even know the prize.

Ishan Perera, an 18-year-old APK freshman, was ditched by his friend before the event and left to attend the contest alone. He said his motivation was to be with his friend and to see the stadium for the first time.

“I didn’t know [the prize] was tickets,” Perera said. “I thought a friend was going to come, and I thought [the contest] was going to be inside the stadium. I’ve never seen the stadium.”

However, there was controversy with Perera’s win for farthest distance since his plane was made of plastic and not out of paper.

Perera said he emailed Sue Wagner, community relations coordinator for the CJC, prior to the event and asked what the rules were in making the plane, in which he was written back that there were no rules to how the plane was made.

Delainie McNeal, assistant to the dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, said she was not sure whether Perera should have been disqualified since he won a paper airplane contest with a plastic plane,

“We did not have a lot of rules in place to prevent that from happening,” McNeal said. “Next year, we’ll revisit our rules.”

Wagner and McNeal planned the event together since August. This was the second year that the UF College of Health and Human Performance had won the trophy for the paper airplane contest.

“We’ve been pretty good engineers at paper airplanes,” McNeal said.

Even though her school did not win, Wagner said she was happy people came out and had fun while raising money for charity.