WSU marketing students help Spinal Ride

flash mob INTERNET (9 of 22)
(Photo by Tyler Brown) Lany Watkins (center) and community members donate their time and talent to participate in the Spinal Ride flash mob at Newgate Mall in Ogden.
flash mob INTERNET (21 of 22)
(Photo by Tyler Brown) Ryan Marshall and Kris Sanford, founder of nonprofit Spinal Ride, talk to the crowd after an awareness-raising flash mob at Newgate Mall in Ogden.

Kris Sanford continues to endure rigorous training, preparing for the race of his life. After a summer riddled with painful injuries, Sanford returned to Weber State University and received some unexpected help from fellow WSU students.

This fall semester, a group of seniors approached Sanford, wanting to promote Spinal Ride for their Marketing Promotions Management class project.

Sanford, WSU public relations major, created Spinal Ride, a charity fundraiser through which he hopes to raise $100,000, which will be donated to Neuroworx, a unique clinic that focuses on paralysis and provides its clients with the therapy they need, not just what their insurance will pay for.

Along with his Spinal Ride fundraiser, Sanford plans to ride his hand-cycle from Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Huntington Beach, Calif., a distance of 1,100 miles, with the desire to break the current quadriplegic distance world record of 776 miles.

“I’m not so much worried about the record as I am the raising-the-money part,” Sanford said. “It can really help other people in my situation who don’t have the money to go through therapy.”

Sanford was involved in a roll-over car accident in 2009 where he broke his neck, leaving him paralyzed. Sanford, 19 when the accident happened, has had his ups and downs through his recovery, but kept his determined attitude about life.

Professor Tony Allred, who has shown an increasing interest in nonprofits, wanted to bring something new to the class, as this is his first year teaching MRKT 3450. He wanted the students to show him what they did to help endorse their organization.

Students in MRKT 3450 are required to fill in segmenting, branding, advertising, digital media, sales promotion, personal selling and alternative media and not just plan it, but actually implement it.

“I built this idea around a class where there would be teams that would pick a nonprofit they were interested in,” Allred said. “Then they would develop an Internet marketing campaign.”

WSU business administration majors Ryan Marshall and David Call and marketing major Lany Watkins, the group that approached Sanford, have been working hard to promote Spinal Ride. They have raised awareness through blogging, making bumper stickers, even doing a flash mob at a mall in Ogden.

“We received a business donation from Cody’s Automotive Repair in Ogden to have fliers produced to hand out at the flash mob and students on campus,” Marshall said.

The flash mob had more than 30 participants from various local dance companies and schools.

“It just makes me really happy to realize this guy is going to do that (riding 1,100 miles for charity),” said Jaycee Maw, an eighth-grade cheerleader from Mount Ogden Junior High, who started the flash mob. “He is a true inspiration.”

Watkins, who was over the flash mob, was even able to get students from the University of Utah to get involved.

“It’s really fun to be a part of this event,” said U of U student Tacara Lovings. “We actually are in specially designed P.E., so we help people with disabilities all the time. We are always willing to participate and give back to this community.”

Marshall, Call and Watkins said they have not only been gaining real-world experience and class credit, but that they have had a lot of fun throughout the semester working with Spinal Ride and that it is a great opportunity they want to continue with after the semester is over.

“It’s probably up to Kris,” Watkins said. “I asked him the other day if he wanted me to keep blogging for him, so if he wants me to, I will continue doing that.”

The marketing group has worked hard all semester to bring awareness to Spinal Ride and was able to get a huge break working with KSL, which will feature Sanford’s story Nov. 27 by airing the story on the nightly news. Marshall said it will also be published in the Deseret News and aired on KSL Radio.

Those interested in donating to Spinal Ride or learning more about Sanford can visit his website at or like his Facebook page.

As written in The Signpost earlier this semester, WSU has created an internship with Spinal Ride, for public relations majors especially, but any student can ask their adviser if this internship will suffice for their requirements. Kathryn Edwards, director of the Master of Professional Communication, said it is a great opportunity for a student to get hands-on experience in a rewarding event.