HAYS, KS -- A tradition that has already entered its second decade will become positively prehistoric next week when Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, visits Topeka.
Hammond arrived at FHSU in 1987 and started the tradition a couple years later of taking "heart" buttons to Kansas legislators and their secretaries each Valentine's Day.
The first button had one heart and carried the slogan, "My Heart Belongs to Western Kansas." Each year since then, a different slogan has been used and another heart has been added. But this year the tradition has an added dimension.
An exhibit called "A T.Rex Named Sue" that is touring major U.S. cities will open Feb. 24 at Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History. The exhibit includes a life-size, 42-foot cast of the largest, most complete and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever found and a variety of interactive displays that create a scientifically accurate and exciting dinosaur experience. The exhibit has drawn huge crowds in the handful of museums it has already visited. (To order tickets or for further information, call the Sternberg Museum at (785) 628-4286.)
To add to the fanfare for Sue's only visit to Kansas, this year's heart button carries the image of a T.rex skull along with the university's name, 13 hearts and the slogan, "In the Heart of the Plains."
But that's not all. Pepsi-Cola distributors in Kansas have imprinted information about the Sue visit to the Sternberg Museum on 5.5 million cans of Pepsi that will be distributed throughout most of Kansas. So, Pepsi trucks festooned with Sue banners will deliver the special cans to the Capitol early on Valentine's Day morning.
President Hammond and Debra Prideaux, FHSU's director of alumni/governmental relations, will then deliver the heart buttons, Pepsi cans and other information about Sue to legislators and their staffs throughout the Capitol. They will be joined by members of FHSU's Student Government Association and Classified Senate who are making their annual trek to the Capitol to visit with state legislators.
Note to Editors/News Directors: The FHSU group will meet in the rotunda and begin deliveries shortly after 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Reporters and photographers are welcome to accompany them on their rounds.