There were shark beer cozies, shark-fin ice cubes, Land Shark beer, shark gummy candies, a shark toilet seat decal, a dog in a shark costume and a flying 5 foot inflatable shark hanging over the guests the entire night.
The event? A fantastic fundraising party organized by Nikki Ackleson and her husband Mark Bechtold to raise funds for Shark Savers and raise awareness about threats facing sharks.
“We were looking for an excuse to bring our friends together,” says Nikki, “and we thought kicking-off Shark Week would be the best time to host a social event with a theme, while spreading the word that sharks are in need of help.”
Nikki has been passionate about sharks for as long as she can remember; getting her first look into shark anatomy and behavior in the early year of Shark Week on Discovery Channel, which for her was like “a week-long national holiday.”
Over the years, as she learned more about the threats that sharks are facing, Nikki became inspired to teach others the importance of protecting shark species and provide support any way she could.
“I think sharks are misunderstood,” says Nikki. “It is in our best interest to change these misconceptions in order to keep shark populations safe and the balance of our oceanic ecosystem intact.”
Her guests couldn’t agree more. They came sporting shark fin headbands, shark hats, masks and fins galore, as well as a few more creative costumes. One guest came dressed as “The Ocean,” in all shades of blue, and another came as “The Ocean at Night,” wearing all black. They also got handed brochures courtesy of Shark Savers, highlighting the startling declines in shark populations.
“We certainly converted some of our friends into shark activists during our party,” says Nikki. “Shark fin soup was a big topic during the event – our friends had no idea how many shark populations are facing extinction because of this vile practice.”
And their fantastic shark party wasn’t just an eye-opener for her guests, they also raised $130 for Shark Savers programs to protect vulnerable shark populations and reduce the demand for shark fin soup.
“We looked at a number of organizations that mobilized to protect sharks” says Nikki, “but we felt particularly passionate about the mission, tailored approach and effectiveness of Shark Savers. We will continue to focus our fundraising efforts with Shark Savers in the coming months and years.”
Their Shark Week kick-off party will now be an annual event, with plans to have even more shark-themed decorations, including a shark-shaped watermelon fruit basket, water-themed cupcakes and shark-themed activities.
“I loved combining a social gathering with friends with a community-based initiative that I am passionate about,” says Nikki. “There are so many fun foods and drinks and activities you can pull together for a shark-themed party.”
“We only just scratched the surface.”
For ideas on organizing your own shark party, click here