Sigma Chi fraternity hosts week-long philanthropy event

A “derby” — appearance unbeknownst to most — is a stiff felt hat with a rounded crown and a narrow brim. During each afternoon of the week-long national event Derby Daze, three of these strange little hats are floating around the Willamette University campus, giving both name and spirit to Sigma Chi fraternity’s spring philanthropy.

Money raised during this week’s Derby Daze is donated to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, a research, support and education institution that annually secures one-third of the operating budget for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Sigma Chi fraternity supports the foundation nationally, and the Willamette chapter, Delta Zeta, holds both Derby Daze in the spring and Sigma Chi Bachelor in the fall to benefit the foundation. This fall, Bachelor raised more than $3,500.

Derby Daze consists of a competition among the three sororities on campus — Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Gamma and Pi Beta Phi — through a medley of fundraising and competitive events. The derbies come into play as members of the sororities try to capture them off the heads of fraternity brothers in order to earn points towards their total scores. 

Tyler Starr ’12, philanthropy chair of Sigma Chi, says that philanthropic events are an important aspect of fraternity life, and that Greek organizations’ involvement in community service is often overlooked by others. Along with Derby Daze and Bachelor, Delta Zeta works with Habitat for Humanity and does volunteer projects with local churches.

“Derby Daze gives us a chance to both raise money and to also strengthen our ties with other Greek organizations on campus,” he says. “It also reflects the Willamette spirit and our university motto, ‘Not alone unto ourselves are we born.’”

Derby Daze may be a competition, but the “score” isn’t just about winning. The sororities accumulate points from dollars raised as well — Derby Daze t-shirt sales, change donations and buying clues (for derby-hunting) add to both charity donations and to cumulative score.

Members of the greater campus community are invited to get involved by donating to sororities’ jars in Goudy Commons — dollar bills are positive points, change is negative points, and all donations go toward charity.

The sororities compete in an event each day of the week, “coached” by members of Sigma Chi, including a flag football game, a “dress your coaches” costume contest, Sigma Chi Jeopardy and a dance share.

Pi Beta Phi sorority President Darrah Bailey Johnson ’12 says the event brings the Greek community together and shows the Willamette community the philanthropic spirit of the organizations.

“We all participate in philanthropy within our chapters,” she says. “This is a fun and beneficial way for four organizations to come together and do something we’re collectively invested in. We’re supporting both Sigma Chi and the Willamette emphasis on community service.”

For more information, contact Tyler Starr.