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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 5:26 p.m., Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hawaii Bowl-bound ECU fans donate tickets to military

Associated Press

GREENVILLE, N.C. — East Carolina University football fans are buying tickets to their team's bowl game in Hawai'i, but they are donating them to military personnel who expect to spend time there during the Christmas holiday.

Assistant athletic director for ticketing and marketing Scott Wetherbee said ECU wants to be sure someone will sit in its seats for the Sheraton Aloha Bowl on Dec. 23 in Honolulu by buying tickets and donating them to active members of the service.

"We know we're not going to take 5,000 fans to Hawai'i," Wetherbee said.

Hawaii Bowl Executive Director Jim Donovan had contacts with all five branches of the armed services, Wetherbee said, and the idea was to give those stationed on the islands — preferably those not from Hawai'i — a chance to request tickets to the game.

The five branches of the military have 45,564 active, reserve and National Guard troops and sailors stationed at 13 installations throughout the islands, according to the Hawaiian government. If there are not enough takers from the military, Wetherbee said, tickets will be offered to firefighters, police officers and local charities.

In exchange for their donations, ECU fans will receive a commemorative bowl ticket. As for the ECU followers buying and using their own tickets, Wetherbee said the number grew slowly last week.

"Right now, we're pushing 200 that have ordered," he said. "If I had to guess, I would hope we would have 400 or 500 make the destination. We told them to send us about 1,000 and the rest of our allotment we would try to donate."

Wetherbee confirmed some fans have chosen to be more charitable than others. The biggest givers since the donation process began Monday include one fan who donated 25 of the $40 tickets, and a company that tried to confirm seats for a handful of employees in Hawai'i with ECU ties.