It's National High-Five Day

High-Fives for a Good Cause: It All Started in Higher Ed

High-fives and lemonade. They both pack a wallop—but in a good way when it’s for a good cause. That’s how National High-Five Day was launched, on a warm April day in 2002, when students at the University of Virginia (UVA) handed out lemonade, high-fives, and donation requests.

Since then, the idea has spread to other campuses, businesses, and nonprofits as a charity event like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. For the past 15 years, National High-Five Day has occurred on the third Thursday of April. So, today, high-five-a-thons and other “up-top” challenges are taking place around the country.

This year’s National High-Five Challenge supports CoachArt, but local groups are raising money and awareness for other causes, too.

The High-Five College Connection

UVA started this national day of observance, but it was University of Louisville’s men’s basketball team that’s widely credited with the origin of the gesture itself. In 1980, TV sportscaster Al McGuire was in the booth at a Cardinals’ game when he dubbed it the team’s “high-five handshake.” Today, it’s a worldwide show of celebration. And, among this year’s National High-Five Day organizers are representatives from the University of Southern California and the University of San Francisco. The college tradition continues even after all these years.

How Do You High-Five?

Go ahead: Look around your office and high-five someone right now. It’ll make them feel good. That is, unless it’s a miss—like an “air-five.” Or (worse!), a poorly timed attempt that ends up as a face-smack.

That’s happened to more than a few of us. So, here are the “official instructions” for a perfect high-five: Look directly at the other person’s elbow—not their hand—as you go in for the high-five. It works every time. The resulting feel-good vibes do, too.

Happy National High-Five Day, FinAid friends. Here’s a virtual high-five to all of you who help make financial aid awesome.

Read about a debt-zombie-buster who deserves a high-five >