Guinness World Record Set at Baylor

May 30, 2024
Dr. Mar Magnusen and world record setters

World Record — The record-setting group, along with many volunteers, lined up all 1,203 sleeping bags at McLane Stadium and counted them on video for their Guinness record submission. Pictured L-R: Sam Esparza, MSEd ’23; Meagan Noranbrock, BA ’22; Dr. Mar Magnusen; Dr. Magnusen’s son.

A Baylor group, led by students and a professor in the MSEd Sport Management program, set an official Guinness World Record. Guinness recognized the Baylor group for holding the World Record for the “Longest Line of Sleeping Bags” (1,203) set in Waco, Texas, at Baylor University’s McLane Stadium on July 4, 2023. In addition to setting a record, the project was designed to help homeless veterans in Texas.

Official record holders are:

Dr. Mar Magnusen, associate professor of sport management in the Department of Educational Leadership in the Baylor School of Education

Sam Esparza, 2023 graduate of the SOE’s MSEd in Sport Management

Kevin Davis, program manager of Baylor VETS

Meagan Noranbrock, Veterans One Stop of Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network, 2022 Baylor graduate

The project was dubbed “Operation Warmth for Warriors,” and distribution of the bags took place in the fall through statewide veterans groups coordinated by Waco’s One Stop.

“We really want to help veterans get off the streets, especially in winter, and the distribution process can build a relationship between the organizations and the veterans,” Magnusen said. “The connections can help veterans transition to a new and bright phase of their service.”

The idea for setting a world record through a significant philanthropic project was hatched in Magnusen’s spring course, Athletic Fundraising and Development. Students in the course learn fundraising basics including data collection and management, identifying and asking donors, building coalitions and partnerships, and other aspects of projects as large as capital campaigns for sports arenas.

Each spring, Magnusen’s students plan and execute their own service fund-raising project, but the time restraints of a semester mean those are limited in scope. Still, over the last few years, students in the class have collected more than 1,000 toys for the Toys for Tots Christmas project and recently conducted a successful coat drive for children served by Child Protective Services.

“The veterans project idea grew out of conversations in the fundraising class,” Magnusen said. When he shared his dream of breaking a Guinness record, it turned out that then-student Esparza had similar dreams of breaking a world record with an event at McLane Stadium, where he was a graduate assistant as part of the MSEd program. It didn’t take long to research world records they considered attainable and find a worthy cause.

“Sam was willing to step up and get others involved,” Magnusen said. “With a longer time frame, you can build a coalition of interested stakeholders, and something great can happen. That is something that’s taught in the course.”

To accomplish the goal, the group needed to raise significant funds, which they did through the Baylor University “Torch” platform, raising a total of $13,796. With those funds, they purchased 1,203 high-quality sleeping bags, which was more than twice the previous Guinness World Record.

Project volunteers included many at Baylor University, the School of Education, the Department of Educational Leadership, and local groups.

“This was an amazing experience,” Magnusen said. “It took a coalition of devoted people, which is why I am grateful and give thanks to God for the gift of so many incredible people who worked behind the scenes.”

Project partner Baylor VETS (Veteran Educational and Transition Services) also has roots in the School of Education; it was founded at Baylor in 2012 through the efforts of Dr. Janet Bagby, then a senior lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology.