MASON, Ohio – Nearly 22,000 soccer balls are floating in the iconic fountain at Kings Island in an effort to "kick cancer."
While the amusement park in Mason specializes in thrill-inducing attractions, it spent the summer raising funds for cancer research and care for millions of men, women and children affected the disease. It did so through the inaugural Kings Island Kicks Cancer campaign.
More than $186,000 has been raised since the campaign began July 25, according to Kings Island's public relations manager, Don Helbig. The net proceeds from soccer ball sales and donations benefit The Dragonfly Foundation, Melanoma Know More and Pink Ribbon Girls.
On Sunday, King Island marketing director Marissa Brock presented a check for $186,000 to representatives from the organizations. All three received $62,000.
“The Dragonfly Foundation, Melanoma Know More and Pink Ribbon Girls have been outstanding to work with," Helbig said. "Without the help and support that we’ve received from each organization, the campaign would not have been as successful."
One of the fundraising tools was the sale of soccer balls.
Park visitors from 36 states and multiple countries purchased a ball from the park for $5 and kicked it into the fountain on International Street for a chance to win a new 2015 Honda Fit. Tanya Drake of Covington, Kentucky was randomly selected among the 21,854 entries as the winner of the car.
The park is also working with the nonprofits to raise awareness about specific types of cancer. They're doing so through attention-grabbing events such as trying to set world records for things such as most heads shaved simultaneously and brought attention to the Pink Ribbon Girls through a lipstick challenge.
"It’s been great to see the awareness that has been created through this campaign for each organization,” Helbig said.
On Aug. 9, a crowd of 2,148 park guests joined forces to topple the sunscreen application record and raise awareness about melanoma and other skin cancers.
"In topping the record... we were able to create awareness and educate our guests about the need to protect themselves by applying sunscreen when they’re going to be exposed to the sun," Helbig commented at the time. "That’s what today was all about.”
The campaign concluded Sunday and Helbig was confident it was a success.
“Sunday night, when the campaign ends, there’s no question we will have established a new record for the most soccer balls floating in a fountain pool at the same time for a great cause,” he added.