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As fraternity men, we all know the stereotypes associated with us.
Sure, we like a fine single malt coupled with a cigar on a sunny Wednesday afternoon when maybe we should be elsewhere, like class. Yes, sometimes my foursome feels the need to bring a 30-rack out on the course with us, but come on, that’s only like seven beers per person over eighteen holes. And of course we like throwing lavish themed parties surrounded by beautiful women and an abundance of alcohol, because they usually lend themselves to providing an absurd level of fun.
Let’s be honest, our forefathers would be rolling over in their graves if they knew we tried to steer from the titillating traditions established by so many generations past.
Antiquated as they may be, all of these stereotypes have manifested themselves throughout more than a century of fraternity life in this nation, and it’s unfortunate when this generally accepted microcosm of fraternity life overshadows some of the remarkable things that Greeks nationwide contribute to their local communities.
Yesterday, in a superlatively inspiring move for Greek Life all across America, Penn State’s IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (affectionately known as “THON” to those involved) culminated with the reveal that $12.37 million was raised over the past year for the Four Diamonds Fund, which benefits pediatric cancer patients and their families. The longing motto for the weekend is “FTK” (For The Kids) and “diamonds” are thrown up at all times, in support of the cause.
The 46-hour long dance marathon that started Friday afternoon, saw 710 dancers take to the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center with one goal in mind: eradicate pediatric cancer. Throughout their sleepless endeavor that lasted until 4pm yesterday, all dancers remained on their feet while being entertained by live performers, prominent members of the Penn State community, and their respective organizations that filled entire sections of the BJC, sporting letters and coordinated colored garb in support. Other than taking part in a line dance every hour that recaps everything newsworthy over the past year, the dancers in the arena really had no concept of time.
Having experienced it first hand, the last four hours of THON on Sunday are the most heart wrenching possible. This year, the BJC was filled to capacity by 3:00am on Sunday morning by those wanting to experience the unbelievable spectacle. Filled with success stories of survivors and nostalgic looks at the beautiful lives lost and the marathon in years past, this time provided hands down some of the best bonding experiences I’ve ever had with my brothers, our sisters which we paired with, and many other members of the community. It’s unfathomable to catch any one of the 17,000+ people who fill the building with a dry eye.
Since pairing with the Four Diamonds fund in 1977, THON has continued to grow at an exponential rate. This year’s $12.37M shattered last year’s grand total of $10.68M, and marks the seventh consecutive year that the total amount donated has increased. Even more overwhelming, the number this year puts THON’s all-time philanthropic contributions over $100M.
Curious to see how your chapter measured up?
1. Alpha Tau Omega & Zeta Tau Alpha – $367,452.77
2. Lambda Chi Alpha & Alpha Sigma Alpha – $288,429.1
3. Sigma Chi & Alpha Omicron Pi – $239,149.27
4. Acacia & Gamma Phi Beta – $195,897.11
5. Pi Kappa Phi & Alpha Chi Omega – $181,017.09
6. Delta Chi & Kappa Kappa Gamma – $163,504.52
7. Sigma Alpha Epsilon & Pi Beta Phi – $148,951.65
8. Kappa Delta Rho & Sigma Delta Tau – $146,182.67
9. Theta Delta Chi & Alpha Delta Pi – $131,341.43
10. Sigma Alpha Mu & Chi Omega – $123,894.87
Astonishingly, the majority of the money contributed to THON is ascertained on only four weekends throughout the year – designated as canning weekends. Literally, as the description lends itself to, you take to street corners all over the Northeast, and along with your brothers and respective sorority sisters with which you’re paired, you hold a sign dignifying your purpose, and a metal can to collect spare change donations from drivers passing by.
Events like this really make you take a step back and recognize everything that we, as fortunate fraternity men, really do take for granted. To stand on your feet, sleepless for 46 hours, may seem like a challenge, but it can not even come close to replicating the immeasurable pain that so many of the children present have experienced throughout the course of their treatment. Far and away, this is one of the more amazing brotherhood experiences I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s something that tragically, the Greek community nationwide does not get enough recognition for.
Of course we do things to live up to our stereotypes, but we also stand for social ideas much, much grander than them.
Yes, drinking and partying may be a part of a code that is deeply rooted in the fraternity culture we live by, but events like THON and the philanthropies that your respective chapter participates in create untold social good that is endearingly transcendent through generations of brotherhood. Time spent like this is at the absolute core of why so many fraternity men learn the morals that see them grow to be great husbands, fathers and leaders.
Bravo to all those involved with THON this year, and every philanthropy chair at every chapter throughout the country, wherever you may be. Keep on nice movin’.
Image via Onward State