With over 490,000 “cheers,” Galesburg currently sits in second place in the second round of the Reader’s Digest “We Hear you, America” contest.
The contest allows people to “cheer” for a town up to ten times each day. Reader’s Digest will be awarding cash prizes to ten winning towns and will feature these towns in an upcoming issue of the magazine.
This is the second round of the contest, launched after over 12.5 million people voted in the first round. In the previous competition, Galesburg finished in the 19th spot with 175,539 cheers. The town is currently in second place and almost 100,000 cheers ahead of the next competitor. The town in first place as of April 6 is Rancho Cordova, CA, with over 615,000 cheers.
“It’s so exciting,” senior Tara Orech said. “I try to vote every day if I remember.”
According to Orech, local residents and businesses were hopeful about the impact Knox students could have on the contest.
“I went to the Landmark and the owner was telling us about it,” she said. “He really wanted Knox students specifically. He said [Galesburg] is really going to have to count on them because they’re the ones who are technology savvy. He asked us to spread it around campus and get people into it.”
Although posters supporting the competition have begun to appear around campus, the word-of-mouth approach appears to be the most successful type of advertising.
“My friend came into my room and told me to vote for Galesburg,” freshman Romina Pyakurel said. “I vote every day.”
Students have also made heavy use of Facebook, frequently posting links and encouragement to “cheer” for Galesburg. This was how junior Rachel Lyman discovered the contest.
“Someone had posted the link,” she said. “I cheered. I did it a few times, but it was more like, oh yeah, that’s there. I haven’t done it in a long time.”
Lyman also had concerns about some of the larger implications of the contest.
“When I first saw it I wondered – what is [Reader’s Digest] getting from this?” Lyman said.
Despite this worry, Lyman noted that the prize could be a boon for Galesburg.
“I just feel like the town is in poor shape and needs the money for businesses and such,” she said.
Pyakurel agreed, suggesting any winnings be used to stimulate new businesses and new jobs. In addition to job creation, Orech noted the need for funds in the education system.
“They’re behind,” she said. “The public schools need a lot of money.”
If Galesburg can hold on to their second place spot, the town will receive $25,000 in prize money. First place receives $40,000. In addition to prizes for the six towns receiving the most number of votes, four prizes are also available for the top-cheered towns in certain population ranges.
Those interested in voting for Galesburg or any other town should go to http://wehearyouamerica.readersdigest.com/. The contest will end on May 16. Overall, the magazine has promised to give away $7.5 million in economic stimulus prizes.
Town rankings (as of April 6)
1. Rancho Cordova, Calif.
2. GALESBURG, ILL.
3. Armada, Mich.
4. Boley, Okla.
5. Crescent City, Calif.
6. Ely, Minn.
7. Newberry, Mich.
8. Park Rapids, Minn.
9. Phillipsburg, Kan.
10. Benkelman, Neb.