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BYU business students use laughter to save lives

Joke book raises funds for HIV-positive children in Zambia

Humor at Brigham Young University is bringing smiles to the faces of children in Zambia — and it all started in a finance class.

A requirement to do just three hours of service led to six students in the Marriott School coming together to form Laughs for Life, a group that uses laughter to benefit charitable causes. They compiled a joke book, “The Book of Y: Let There Be Laughter.” This semester, more than $6,500 in proceeds from book sales were presented to Tiny Tim and Friends, a nonprofit foundation that provides comprehensive medical care to HIV-positive orphans and pregnant women in Zambia.

“There are so many things we can do for these kids,” said Greg Conover, a senior majoring in corporate finance from Sandy, Utah, and CEO of Laughs for Life. “We want to help level the playing field so they can get an education and have a stable family when they grow up.”

The idea to compile a joke book came from the students’ professor, Andrew Holmes, associate professor of business management. Holmes told his class that if anyone was interested, they could go to his office for a meeting for more information.

Among the students who showed up in Holmes’ office were seniors Nathan Jergensen, a general business major from Hemet, Calif.; Adam Bourgeois, a accounting major from Libertyville, Ill.; Kathlyn de la Rosa, a entrepreneurship major from Lancaster, Calif.; A.J. Wilcox, a marketing management major from Orem, Utah; David Nance, a general business major from Sandy, Utah; and Greg Conover, a corporate finance major from Sandy, Utah. The group was quickly caught up in Holmes’ vision to give a hand to AIDS orphans in Zambia.

The students rallied together and gathered joke contributions for their book from students and faculty across the campus. The books came off the press in time for April Fool’s Day, and have been on sale at the BYU Bookstore. The book has gained popularity, and last month, the students presented a check for more than $6,500 to Tim Meade, the head of Tiny Tim and Friends.

Meade, who said the typical donation to his organization is $20 to $50, said this donation is particularly significant.

“We run the whole program for a month on $1,500,” Meade says. “I know what we can do on the ground with this money. So, that figure just looks to me like lots of happy, healthy children.”

But there’s no rest for these social capitalists. Although they’ve raised thousands, the students are now working hard to guarantee the future of Laughs for Life.

“We’re trying to set the organization up so it can be a continuing entity and maybe see if we can develop a new project to continue to raise funds,” Conover said.

The Marriott School ’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

For this and other Marriott School news releases, visit the online newsroom at

Writer: Cindy Badger


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