The University of Richmond chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity raised more than $20,000 for breast cancer research last week with the help of sorority participation in Derby Days, its annual philanthropic event.
The Sigma Chi brothers encouraged seven on-campus sororities to compete against each other in a T-shirt sale, bake sale, car wash, pieeating contest, powder puff football game, scavenger hunt and a brother's auction.
The winners of each event were chosen based on the amount of money they raised per fundraising event and by the points they scored per game. The sorority that won each event earned points for their overall total. By the end of the week, the Delta Delta Delta sorority claimed victory and celebrated with a NASCAR themed party at Sigma Chi's lodge on March 29.
"I was surprised by the dedication and organization the girls showed during the week," said Tom Dittrich, the "derby daddy," or brother who planned the event. "There were countless numbers of girls participating in every event."
Dittrich said his initial goal had been to raise $10,000. Before the spider card sheets were processed, the fraternity expected to have raised $25,000, which was a 385 percent increase from the $6,500 that Derby Days raised in 2007.
Dittrich attributed the event's success to the enthusiasm the brothers displayed.
"This year we chose to be louder about this cause," Dittrich said. "We designed a T-shirt and adopted a slogan that attracted attention. The people running the table in the Commons made it their goal to make everyone at the university aware of this cause and what the students were doing about it."
Alex Boath, the brother who coached the Pi Beta Phi sorority, said, "A lot of the brothers put a lot of effort into coaching each sorority."
Two or three Sigma Chi brothers were assigned to encourage each sorority during the week and to coach them at the Derby Days finale, the powder puff football game.
"It got competitive between the sororities at times, but the [competition] never got in the way of raising money for breast cancer," Mary Colleary said about her Derby Days experience on the Pi Phi team.
Dittrich added, "I think the 2008 Derby Days says a lot about the students and faculty here at UR, and in particular the value of the Greek system. It shows that as a student body we are capable of a lot more than we think when we act cohesively."
Sigma Chi will donate the money from the event to the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
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