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Why this Kingaroy student stayed awake for three days

Kingaroy Herald article dated August 16, 1967 concerning Russ Fritz's wakeathon.
Kingaroy Herald article dated August 16, 1967 concerning Russ Fritz's wakeathon. Contributed

THINK you could stay awake for more than two days?

Fifty years ago, a Kingaroy State High School student did just that to help fund the school's first assembly hall.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Russ Fritz's wakeathon,which was part of a fundraising competition between the four high school houses.

A broadcast studio console was set up in the front window of the then Angell's Pharmacy in Kingaroy St for the duration of the wakeathon.

The Year 12 student conducted a radio-style programme during his 88-hour endeavour, which lasted from 7am on Thursday, August 10 until 11pm on Sunday, August 13, 1967.

Mr Fritz said he was always a bit of a night owl when younger and had planned to stay awake for 96 hours, hoping to raise $200.

"When the time rolled around to late on the Sunday night mental fatigue was getting the better of me. I did it by just staying awake, with no artificial stimulants other than regular tea and coffee and my father sat with me through the long night hours," Mr Fritz said.

"Those cool overnight hours of Kingaroy in August were the big challenge. On two of the mornings during the wakeathon, the temperature dropped to zero."

Mr Fritz said the wakeathon raised more than $260, which in today's money equated to around $3150.

"Palmer House also had a lamington drive and the two events assured that we won the fundraising trophy," he said.

Mr Fritz was awarded the Rotary Shield and Prize in 1967 for Service, Leadership and Citizenship.

He said the fundraising competition between the school houses was a popular idea among students

"Even though we wouldn't get to use the completed hall, we all took the fundraising seriously. I remember quite a lot of friendly rivalry between the houses - a rivalry that has brought a jibe or two at school reunions since then," he said.

The school hall was officially opened by Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen on July 2, 1969.

Mr Fritz said his spirit was willing to give another wakeathon a go, but the body said no.

"I can hardly stay awake eight hours now, let alone 88. I'll pass the baton on that one," he said.

South Burnett

Topics:  kingaroy state high school south burnett history


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