For Immediate Release
March 27, 2007

UTB/TSC Reaches 12 Hours Over Record 

The bestseller, “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” has served as a motivational tool for millions, and at UTB/TSC it was one of the major books that helped the university carve its name in the Guinness World Record Book.  

Amid cheers, pompoms and the trumpeting of paper horns, the School of Education reading marathon team read their last page at 9:02 a.m., Tuesday, March 27, 12 hours after already clinching the title.

“Would we do it again? Yes,” Dr. Javier Ayala, a team member and UTB/TSC professor, said minutes after the team completed their marathon. “It was an insane idea, but it gave us the opportunity to see how far we could go and not even hunger, or lack of sleep, could stop us.” 

The team, consisting of Ayala, Dr. Carmen Garcia-Caceres, also a professor, Catalina Espinoza and Barbara Monroy, UTB/TSC students, started reading at noon, Thursday, March 22.  

The Guinness World Records required readers to not only recite from published works for at least two minutes, but each team member was only allowed to read no more than three hours continuously, with at least a one hour break in between.  

During their breaks, members slept, used the bathroom and ate all in the same area the attempt was made.  

“This was the closest thing to jail time I have ever and will ever experience,” Garcia-Caceres said.  

Although readers were held to strict rules, they said the experience brought more to them than just a title. 

“I made a lot of new friends from all the volunteers who were with us each and every step,” Monroy said. “It was great to read about new topics and ideas, like feminism, vegetarianism and fantasy. To hear someone say to me that I sparked an interest by them listening to you, well that was very powerful for me.” 

At exactly 9:02:40 p.m., Monday, March 26, they broke the previous record of 128 hours, which was held by seniors Southside High School, in Elmira in New York, bringing the UTB/TSC readers total to just over 140 hours. 

Originally the readers had set a goal of 200 hours, but had to cut their time short due to one of the readers, Espinoza, losing her voice. 

“We would have loved to try and go for the 200 hours we wanted but we just could not go anymore,” Ayala said. “One of our readers lost her voice. We could have got a replacement but that would have meant (Espinoza) forfeiting her name in the book.” 

UTB/TSC President, Dr. Juliet V. Garcia, commended the readers for their efforts and their commitment to the university.  

“On behalf of all of us, all I can say is felicidades,” Garcia said. “You have not only put our name in the world record books, you have also sent out such a clear message to all of the campus, the community, the state and even the world.” 

Although the reading has ended, the team’s road to becoming the official winners has just begun. The team is still in the works of compiling a list of each of the books read during the marathon, as well as preparing each of the documents required by Guinness World Records.  

“It will probably take a while to get all these lists compiled and see just how much we read,” Garcia-Caceres said. “But once we send it all in, it should take about three to four weeks.” 

The group will have to send a video documenting the entire marathon along with precise records of their readings.  

“We are very proud of them for reading five and a half days with very little sleep,” Dr. Carl Stockton, School of Education Dean, said. “We also absolutely appreciate all the loving and caring support from other people who came to help us with this endeavor.”

Throughout the event, the School of Education was not only looking to put their names in record books, they hope the marathon will also raise scholarship funds. The public can still sponsor the readers for every minute they read during the marathon. Proceeds will go to help students, who learned to read through a literacy program, attend college.

To make a pledge, call the Office of Development at (956) 548-8708.