The Sigma Chi fraternity held its annual Derby Days philanthropy event last week, and this year included participation from an independent team, nicknamed Team Three Chopt.

"In the past, we've had trouble getting participation from other organizations," said sophomore Ryan Stastny, who serves as philanthropy chairman for the fraternity.

"We're glad we were able to expand outside of the Greek community this year," he said.

Natasha Berg represented Team Three Chopt in the spelling bee held last Thursday at the Ukrop's Auditorium.

All proceeds from the spelling bee event went to Connor's Heroes, a local philanthropy the fraternity has worked with in the past, which provides backpacks to pediatric cancer patients receiving treatment at the Children's Hospital of Richmond, Stastny said.

The 12 participants of the spelling bee could be bought back into the competition after one incorrect spelling for a $10 donation, and $20 for subsequent mistakes.

The vocabulary ranged from words such as "metamorphosis" and "pomegranate," to the last names of brothers in the fraternity.

Berg, who was bought back twice by members of her team, finished second place to Charlotte Denoyer, a member of Pi Beta Phi.

Denoyer, who was bought back once by a fellow sorority sister, won the trophy after correctly spelling "Chobanian," the last name of Sigma Chi junior John Chobanian.

Donning all black, Team Three Chopt participated in the Powderpuff Football Tournament at the President's Field on Friday afternoon, the final event of the Derby Days week.

Senior Lizzie Ruggieri came out to support her team, Team Three Chopt.

There were several women in sororities that joined the independent team, said Ruggieri, who is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

"We felt like it was time," she said. "We wanted to break the mold."

One of two participating Kappa Kappa Gamma teams ultimately won the Powderpuff tournament, but the overall Derby Days winner was determined to be the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.

Theta donated the most money to the fraternity's charity, the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, senior Clay Palmer said. The Huntsman Cancer Institute, a charity focused on cancer research, is Sigma Chi's national philanthropy, Stastny said.

The week of events started with a dunk tank in the University Forum on Wednesday, followed by the Dancing with the Frat Stars competition later that evening.

Each organization was allowed a maximum of three dancers who could register with a brother to compete in the competition for a $20 donation.

Spanish professor Corrado Corradini, classical studies professor Walt Stevenson, junior Dylan Southall and Steve Bisese, vice president for student development, made up the panel to judge the competition.

The panel recognized junior Emma Jordan for best costume. Jordan, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, also placed second in the overall competition, along with her partner, junior Ryan Leddy.

In first place was Theta junior Emily Smith and her partner junior Tim Cannon.

On Saturday night, Sigma Chi hosted a lodge to celebrate the Derby Days success.

Contact reporter Mara Lugo at mara.lugorudner@richmond.edu