The heat was sweltering as students gathered in the Greek Theater on Saturday amid a mass of blue balloons. Jackets were shed, and many spectators enjoyed popsicles as they waited. Bubbles floated over everyone's heads from a bottle in the sixth row. When the first act, Resin, walked on stage to play "Love Song" by The Cure, the crowd of about 50 people erupted in riotous applause.
Kappa Sigma held its first Battle of the Bands event to raise money for a new cause, the local Dominion School for Autism. Members said they hoped the competition would become the main spring event for the fraternity every year and that the partnership with the Dominion School would continue to grow. The fraternity had raised more than $900 for the school by the time the last band left the stage, but donations were still being made. With these contributions, the fraternity members exceeded their goal of raising $1,000.
Jack Fuller was one of Kappa Sig's members who suggested partnering with the Dominion School for Autism and planned the Battle of the Bands fundraiser. "Many brothers in the fraternity have siblings with autism," he said, "It hit close to home." The fraternity members visited the Dominion School and established relationships with some of the children before choosing the organization as their cause, Fuller said.
The fraternity raised $400 before Saturday's event through $5 admissions, and Fuller said the event had already been successful because of the amount of time and energy the members had put into sponsoring the fundraiser.
Fuller also said that the amount of money raised this year would be lower than in following years, because this was the first time Kappa Sigma had hosted the event.
Fuller said the fraternity had chosen to host a Battle of the Bands because the event would be popular, but also productive. "I think it is an event that will excite the UR community and plays to the priorities of the brothers in the fraternity, and if we're more excited, other people will be more excited."
Fuller said people had been eager for the event and that the band try outs had had good reception, with seven bands auditioning. He hoped that people would get equally excited about the event's cause in the future.
Community Support Coordinator for the Dominion School for Autism, Cathy Hicks, was in the crowd and spoke briefly about the school. She said the Dominion School "started in 2005 with just three children and the dream of a 23-year-old director." The school serves students aged 2 to 21. The goal of the school, she said, was to provide student education for families with children with autism in a cost-efficient manner.
Hicks said of the fraternity: "I am blown away. It means so much to know people like you are caring enough to put on such an event."
The school relies almost entirely on community fundraisers, she said.
Fuller has a friend with an autistic sibling, and he said that the Dominion School was his favorite Kappa Sigma philanthropy because of the personal experiences he and the other members shared with this disease.
Senior Patt Eagan of the band Patt Eagan and Company had a similar motivation for participating in the event. He said he had chosen to perform at Battle of the Bands because he knew family friends whose son had autism. "Seeing first-hand over the years the lifelong difficulties and stresses that the disorder causes for not only the affected individual, but the entire family, has definitely caused me to have more of a personal connection to the issue, I'd say."
Eagan said he also felt that this cause was realistic because autism affected so many families, and a cure for autism may be found soon with all the developments in medicine and technology in the past decade.
Eagan, who produced an album in 2009 and is recording a second now, said he had always wanted to play on campus, especially in the Greek Theater. "I cannot think of a better way to spend an afternoon than to listen to live music," he said.
Patt Eagan and Company had the loudest fan base on Saturday, with many members of Eagan's fraternity there to support it.
Junior Reuben Andujar, who came to support his fraternity brother in the duo Resin, said he had not attended Kappa Sigma events in the past, but this event had caught his attention. "My niece is actually autistic, and I think it's a great cause," he said.
Five bands competed in the battle, and The Sirens a capella group also sang three songs during a break. Each person in attendance was given three tickets for voting. The members of Patt Eagan and Company were declared the winners of the battle and received $100. The second-place prize of $50 went to the band Hot Pink Folk.
Eagan gave his band's prize money to the Dominion School for Autism.
Contact staff writer Rachel Bevels at firstname.lastname@example.org