20 years of “Rockin’ the Commons”

Fredonia Radio System's Rockin' the Commons check presentation.

Heading into the 20th year of Rockin’ the Commons, organizers set out to make the event even bigger and better than before. The fundraiser, put on by Fredonia Radio Systems, benefits Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer.

Planning began for the event about nine months in advance. Fredonia Radio Systems General Manager Hunter Halterman, who led the charge on this year’s Rockin’ the Commons, says their hard work paid off in more than one way.

Not only did they bring in more bands to perform, but they also added new activities hosted by SUNY Fredonia on-campus organizations: FREDGrows, the student Psychology Club and Fredonia’s American Cancer Society team. The event also included a raffle along with CD and vinyl sales. As a result, the 2023 Rockin’ the Commons raised more than $1,400 — an increase of a few hundred dollars from the previous year.

Hunter, Fredonia Radio System's station manager, at Rockin' the Commons
Band performing at Fredonia Radio System's Rockin' the Commons
Band photo at Fredonia Radio System's Rockin the Commons

The Cancer Cause

Throughout an event centered around live music and entertainment, coordinators knew the importance of reminding people of the cause.

“So many people are impacted by cancer, whether it be being diagnosed with the disease themselves or knowing someone diagnosed with it. Cancer impacts everyone,” said Hunter.

There was a table at the event to help educate the audience on the cancer cause. Participants were also provided ribbons in honor of or in memory of people in their lives affected by cancer. Those ribbons now contribute to ribbon lines that have been on display in the entryway of the station for the past three years. Hunter says they plan to keep adding to the display over time.

Cancer cause ribbons in the entryway of Fredonia Radio Systems

The Secret to Fundraising Success? Teamwork!

Students at Fredonia Radio System's Rockin' the Commons

When asked how Fredonia Radio Systems was able to pull off an event of this scale, Hunter replied without hesitation: “Teamwork.”

The group organizing Rockin’ the Commons was made up of about 13 students. Hunter explained they tried to designate tasks for each activity.

“For example, we had a raffle group that made sure we got all the businesses contacted and had thank you letters going out,” said Hunter. “We had a team just contacting different bands, trying to work with them about when they should be there, what they should be coming in with and making sure that they know what’s going on.”

While next year’s general manager will take over planning for the 2024 Rockin’ the Commons, Hunter says his team is already evaluating what could elevate the event even further next time around.

“We were all constantly taking notes during the actual event about what we should do the next year.”

Advice to New Fundraisers

Over the last two decades, Rockin’ the Commons has grown into a tradition for SUNY Fredonia. But don’t let that discourage you from starting a new event for your school, university or community.

Hunter had this advice to other students interested in starting their own fundraisers:

“Take the leap. If you have an idea, just try to bring it to fruition. It may take a lot of planning trying to figure out how this puzzle piece goes with this puzzle piece, but just trying to create that big picture — it is so exciting to see it unfold when it happens.”

While putting Rockin’ the Commons together was no easy feat, Hunter believes knowing they were making a difference was well worth the effort.

“We wanted to have the big turnout because the bigger turnout means people are having fun, and we are given the chance to donate more money to Roswell Park.”

Cancer cause ribbons in Fredonia Radio System's entryway
Group photo at Fredonia Radio System's Rockin' the Commons