MINNEAPOLIS — How many people named Zach does it take to start a new philanthropic organization -- and make it go viral?
About 719, apparently.
Student Zach Faith didn't have many expectations when he sent an email to every single Zach at the University of Minnesota.
"It's been a running joke between me and Zach that we wanted to make this intramural basketball team out of only Zachs," Faith said. "And then this summer, I was bored one day. I was like 'what if we just made an entire group of all the Zachs at the university?'"
So in September, he used the university's directory to email every Zach or Zachary he could find -- over 700 of them, from undergrads to PhD students to alumni:
"I have collected all of the emails for all Zachs going to the University of Minnesota in an attempt to create a supergroup," the email read. "The goal of this group will be to take over certain areas of the university, whether it be intramurals, other student groups, or small random classes."
Faith also clarified that this was an exclusive club: "An important note is that I will not be allowing Zachs with incorrect spellings such as Zack or Zak. If applying for any positions, please email me an application or reasoning for your interest."
Open positions ran from Secretary of Zachs to Director of Zachademics.
A few hours later, over a hundred responses started rolling in.
"All of the emails I sent somewhat crashed the U of M email server a little bit," Faith said. "I had to recover my email. Some of the other Zachs had that problem too -- they were getting calls to their I.T. department... eventually during the day, they apparently started going like, 'Are you a part of the Zach thing? Yeah? Alright, good to go then.'"
As the response grew, so did the Zachs' ideas.
"It started out as finding a way to find a Zach at the children's hospital, and to just send a whole bunch of letters to them, like -- make their day," said Vice President Zach Uter.
Plans changed when "Clouds" singer Zach Sobiech's legacy got involved: the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund. It raises money to fight the type of cancer that took Sobiech's life in 2013.
"I want to probably go into medicine one day and work as a pediatric oncologist, so I wanted to start raising money for kids with cancer," Faith said. "Because it's not just about having fun anymore... we could really make a difference."
The Zachs plan to sell shirts and raise money, eventually creating a fund for a family in need.
"We're hoping to keep growing the name -- to help any family, really," Faith said. "It started as something fun and kind of juvenile, and now it's becoming something a lot bigger."