Fundraising event engages teams of puzzle-solvers to benefit Panhandle PBS

AMARILLO, TEXAS—On April 1, dozens of teams and hundreds of participants will gather in downtown Amarillo on the top level of the Happy State Bank parking garage (located at 8th & Taylor) for the start of Big Idea Challenge, a team-based puzzle adventure benefiting Panhandle PBS. The come-and-go event, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, will feature the first “puzzle drop” of the five-week event.

Big Idea Challenge combines elements of scavenger hunts and clue decoding—along with personal fundraising—as teams of six to ten people compete to solve puzzles, raise money, and accumulate points with the goal of qualifying for a live final challenge on May 2, 2014.

“These aren’t simple puzzles,” says Big Idea Challenge co-chair Richard Walton. “These are complex, intellectual problems to solve. That’s why teams are required. You’ll need the Internet, some knowledge of literature and history and code-breaking, and some really smart people.”

Julie Mann, the membership services coordinator for Panhandle PBS, says Big Idea Challenge is a unique kind of fundraiser. “It’s fun, it’s a team-building exercise for coworkers and friends, and it all goes to support public broadcasting in the Panhandle,” she says. “Also, there will be a fabulously tacky trophy given to the winning team. What’s not to like?”

Local author Jason Boyett is a member of the committee, and says he loves the fact that Big Idea Challenge offers an uncommon approach to fundraising in the Texas Panhandle. “This is something that really hits the sweet spot for younger generations,” he says. “We’re used to popcorn sales and fancy dinners, but this kind of event-based, peer-to-peer model of fundraising is new for this area—and big with Generation X and Y.”

“Big Idea Challenge is more than just asking people to donate money,” says Matt Morgan, who co-chairs the event with Walton. “It gives people the chance to have a great time with their friends and coworkers while also calling attention to the Panhandle’s home for programs like Austin City Limits, Downton Abbey, and of course, Sesame Street.”

Should the puzzles prove to be too difficult, select local businesses have volunteered to host clues—whether in their physical locations or online—during the course of the competition. Following the kickoff event, puzzles and clues will post each week at or at the Big Idea Texas Facebook page ( 

About Panhandle PBS:

Panhandle PBS provides a gathering place for intelligent, trusted community engagement to enlighten, entertain and empower the people of the Texas Panhandle and the world. Licensed to Amarillo College, the station extends the community college philosophy of improving the quality of life for all residents. Panhandle PBS broadcasts on Channel 2.1 in digital High Definition carrying PBS programming and Channel 2.2 in digital Standard Definition carrying Spanish language V-Me programming. For more information, please visit

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