EKU Accepts Challenge, Turns South Laurel Senior into "Candy Man"

He meant it as a good-natured joke.

But when Chris Butcher, a senior at South Laurel High School, tweeted, “@EKUAdmissions better step up their game because (a rival school) sent me some candy,” he soon found out just how seriously Eastern Kentucky University was taking his interest.

Butcher’s initial tweet was quickly met by a response from EKU Admissions: “What’s your favorite? We will see what we can do.”

Just three days later, with permission from the school’s guidance counselor and Butcher’s teacher at that time, Fe’Lisa Wilson and Beth Brashears from the EKU Admissions staff, along with current EKU student Candace Graves and the Colonel mascot, made the 50-mile trek to London and appeared at his South Laurel classroom door with a surprise treat. A basket was filled with not only his favorite candy but also an EKU banner, some EKU shirts, and other University paraphernalia.

Butcher was not alone in feeling special. For the 86 other South Laurel students who had also applied to the University, Wilson and Brashears brought each a bag full of Starbursts with a note that said, “We are bursting with happiness that you’re a #FutureColonel.”

The surprise visit and gift basket certainly made a vivid impression on Butcher, son of Melissa Butcher and William Butcher.

“The candy and gifts they gave me were a great way to gain my attention, especially from a marketing and admissions point of view,” Butcher said. “However, they also showed me something that, in my high school career, I’ve seen no other college show, which is how much they care not only about their enrolled students but prospective students as well.

“Of course, they could have just replied to my tweet or just mailed me something, but they took the time to put everything that they did together and travel to my high school – which is so much better than the cliché admissions letters and posts you get from other colleges. I had been planning to attend (EKU) for a little while (and major in computer science) but what they did just locked my decision in place.”

 Butcher never expected such an all-out response. “I figured they would be busy and just acknowledge my tweet how I saw it – as a joke,” he said. “I’m glad colleges like EKU take advantage of social media. I follow not only the admissions page but a few others as well.”

After that response, Butcher began to reply to EKU Admissions and others on Twitter as #CandyMan. Now Butcher is known, not just among his South Laurel classmates but among other members of his incoming freshman class at EKU, as #CandyMan. In fact, at a Spotlight event for prospective students the very next day on the Richmond campus, a live tweeting feature was implemented during which anyone’s tweet with a certain hashtag was shown on the screen.

“People I didn’t even know were tweeting about the Candy Man,” Butcher said. “They even pointed me out in front of the whole Spotlight crowd and told the story. A lot of staff as well as prospective and even current students are aware of me, so it’ll be good to have interactions and friendships because of this going in the fall. Perhaps it will even stick all throughout my undergraduate studies, who knows!”

Just as his current and future classmates may never forget the Candy Man, Butcher said he will always remember the gesture. “It truly means a lot,” he said. “I’m proud to be a #FutureColonel!”

Published on February 26, 2015

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