Photo courtesy of Sigma Chi
Cancer is no laughing topic, but the room was filled with over 200 deep-belly laughs and chuckles. Comedian Drew Michael of the Red Comedy Club in Chicago was the newest event addition to the Sigma Chi fraternity’s philanthropy week, Derby Days.
Derby Days is a week of events and fundraising for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. Jon and Karen Huntsman founded HCF in 1995 to directly benefit the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Jon Huntsman is a Sigma Chi. Prior to fundraising for HCF, Sigma Chi supported the Children’s Miracle Network.
Senior Sigma Chi President Alex Newlin said he personally set a goal of raising $4,000 to top last year’s total of $3,200.
It was the fraternity’s second year supporting HCF, and Sigma Chi rejuvenated the week’s events.
“We knew that we had to restructure Derby Days because there were too many events going on during the week,” Newlin said. “So this summer I sent out an email to some of the girls I knew in every sorority seeking feedback about previous Derby Days. I altered the week to reflect the wishes of the sororities, our main participants in the week.”
The fraternity is deeply invested in the cause and hopes to raise awareness for the importance of supporting cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 17,500 people diagnosed with cancer this year in Iowa alone, and over 1.5 million diagnosed in the United States. It’s estimated that approximately 572,000 people will die this year from cancer.
Michael performed in Parents Hall last Tuesday, and his act was one of those changes mentioned by Newlin. The president said that the comedian surpassed his expectations.
“The girls put a lot of time, effort and money into the week,” Newlin said. “I wanted them to know that we appreciate all the hard work and provided an event where they could just sit back and enjoy. From the feedback I received so far, it seems to have been a hit.”
Throughout the week, sororities picked a holiday theme for a home-cooked dinner for the fraternity. Newlin said it’s a mutually beneficial tradition — the sorority participants have fun, and it’s a huge step up from the usual fraternity diet.
Sororities compete for points and monetary donations. Points are earned throughout the week through T-shirt sales and events like “sign-a-Sig,” where the fraternity members have their shirts signed.
Kelly green, long-sleeve shirts sold for $15. Penny wars brought out the Lincolns, and sororities dressed up Sigma Chi members for a fashion show.
It was announced at Derby Draws last Saturday that the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority had the most points during the philanthropy week.
“Our alumni are outstanding,” Newlin said. “Derby Days is a longstanding tradition, and some recent alumni definitely still participate in the events and donate money.”
Almost all the Drake Greek chapters have philanthropy-focused campaigns. Tau Kappa Epsilon also had its philanthropy events last week to support its respective causes.
“There has been a great push by the International Fraternal Council to include one another in our philanthropies, and I hope to see future Derby Days incorporate that,” Newlin said. “We had a good amount of people who were unaffiliated with the Greek system attend our comedian this week, and I was so happy to see that.”