Family’s fan cutout will send loved one to one last game at Final Four

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The stands at Lucas Oil Stadium will appear full during the Final Four, despite the NCAA only allowing 25% capacity.

Many of the seats will be filled by fan cutouts. Perk Social is the company responsible for creating them. Founders Joe DiPietro and Taylor Gaussoin said they changed course during the COVID-19 pandemic and founded

“We like to joke that we’ve become the No. 1 provider of two-dimensional people in the world,” Gaussoin said.

“It’s really kind of been a highlight of COVID when there hasn’t been a lot of highlights to talk about,” DiPietro said.

For Michelle Soruco, being able to send family to games means a little more this year. Soruco said her 35-year-old cousin, Rachel, died unexpectedly in January. Soruco said Rachel was a Purdue Boilermaker who loved watching her team long after her time in West Lafayette.

“With COVID, we didn’t really get to say goodbye to her, you know; we didn’t really get to have a funeral, didn’t get to go to the hospital,” Soruco said.

She and a few other cousins chipped in to buy Rachel a memorial cutout.

Among the faces at the Final Four will be dozens more with similar stories. DiPietro said he never expected the cutouts to turn into memorials but is a glad they did.

“The amount of people that have actually uploaded someone that’s passed away, saying I get to sit with grandpa again or grandma again, or whomever,” DiPietro said.

A portion of the money from the fan cutouts goes to charity, including United Way’s Central Indiana COVID-19 recovery and rebound effort. Proceeds will also benefit Hilinski’s Hope, a national nonprofit that promotes awareness and education of student-athlete mental health and wellness.

The cutouts are for sale for $100 and can be shipped to customers after the games for $35.