WVU students aim for billiards record to help Make-A-Wish

| Monday, March 10, 2014, 1:21 a.m.

Two West Virginia University students who want to raise awareness of the nonprofit Make-A-Wish Foundation are attempting to play pool nonstop for 80 hours.

If Ian Lake, 18, of Weston, W.Va., and Skyler Banfill, 19, of Florida achieve their goal, they will shoot their way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

“This really isn't about breaking a world record,” said Banfill, a sophomore at WVU. “This is about raising awareness for a great organization by playing pool nonstop for 80 hours. We did a lot of research about nonprofit organizations before we made a decision. We chose the Make-A-Wish Foundation because we wanted to help kids.”

Banfill said the students are hoping to raise $4,000 for the Greater Pennsylvania/West Virginia chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“We set our goal at $4,000 because that would be enough money to grant a wish to one child,” Banfill said. “The Make-A-Wish Foundation told us that we could pick a child, but we decided to allow the organization to select a child. We just wanted to make sure that a child receives a wish.”

The 80-hour event began at 10 a.m. Sunday in Anytime Billiards in Uniontown and will continue until 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Ken Jordan, owner of Anytime Billiards, said he donated pool time to the students because the Make-A-Wish Foundation is a great cause. Anytime Billiards provided a perfect setting for the event because it is open 24/7.

“We couldn't find a pool hall in Morgantown that is open 24 hours a day,” Lake said. “That is why we decided to do this in Uniontown.”

Banfill and Lake, who are members of the WVU billiards team, decided to shoot pool for 80 hours to break the previous 74-hour, 50-minute world record.

“We have a love and passion for pool, and this seemed like an achievable goal,” said Banfill, who has been shooting pool since he was 3 years old. His father, Gregg Banfill, taught him how to play on their home pool table. He stood on a milk crate because he was too small to reach the table.

“My dad would stand me up on a milk crate and show me what to do,” Banfill said. “I just love the sport. People think it's a game, but it's really not. It's all about mathematics and geometry and figuring out what you need to do to make the shot and set up the next shot. It takes a lot of practice and skill.”

Lake said he has been playing pool only for about 18 months, but he quickly developed a passion for the sport.

Banfill and Lake said they became very good friends when they spent about 100 hours planning the event.

“We really didn't know each other that well, but I would say that Ian is now one of my best friends,” Banfill said.

Under the Guinness Book of World Records, the students can take one five-minute break every hour. If they don't have a break for three hours, they can take 15 minutes. They can eat while they are playing pool, but bathroom breaks are restricted to allotted times.

“We've been preparing for this event for a year,” Banfill said. “We rested for several days. We loaded up on carbs last night, and we're going to eat really healthy foods during the event. We're going to drink plenty of water so we are hydrated.”

Several WVU journalism students are filming a documentary about the event and witnessing the world-record attempt. Those students are Rob Gillispie, 32, a broadcast journalism student, and Nayef Abdulijabbar, 24, and Dustin Hoffman, 25, print journalism students.

“We're doing the filming, editing and writing for the event,” Gillispie said. “This is part of our senior journalism class. It's a team effort.”

For more information about the WVU students and their cause, google “Skylar and Ian Make History” to visit their website and make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.

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