Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Rutgers Sig Eps Raise Awareness for Hodgkin's Disease

Lacrosse player to sport purple ribbon
Club team given option to wear emblem to raise awareness for Hodgkin's disease, captain to don pink helmet
By Kaitlyn Calabro/ Contributing Writer

In just a few weeks, members of the University's club lacrosse team will rush out onto the field for their first game, as they do every year.

But this year, their helmets may be embellished with a small purple ribbon on the back, and captain Tim Gallagher, a School of Engineering senior, will be sporting a pink helmet with a purple ribbon on each side and the name "Hanna" across the back.

The team has been given the option of wearing these new helmets in order to raise awareness of Hodgkin's disease. The concept started with Gallagher, who is also a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, the fraternity who lost brother Sean Hanna to Hodgkin's disease last April.

"The executive board of the lacrosse team is helping to push the ribbon idea," Gallagher said. "If the team leaders wear it, it may have a trickle-down effect and eventually all of the team members will be wearing a ribbon on the back of their helmet."Gallagher decided to start wearing this helmet in tribute to his fraternity brother and help spread awareness about the disease.

"I didn't think it could happen to someone I know, but it happened to Sean," Gallagher said. "We need to raise awareness and raise money to eventually help find a cure."

A sister of Alpha Chi Omega is currently in Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's disease. The president of the sorority has been in contact with members of Sigma Phi Epsilon and will probably be involved in future fundraising, Gallagher said.

Besides generating awareness of Hodgkin's disease, the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon are hoping to raise money through various events and fundraisers. Although ideas are underway, few details of these events have been finalized yet.

"Other events will be announced soon," Gallagher said. "It's somewhat a surprise. We're getting the ball rolling and everything will be announced when it's finished.

"The members of Sigma Phi Epsilon have started to plan other activities for fundraising and promoting awareness, such as a block party and the creation of a scholarship for chronically ill and disabled children.

"We're organizing a series of grassroots campaigns," said Sigma Phi Epsilon brother Jessie Hanna, Sean Hanna's brother. "In addition, we have a series of corporate sponsors and private investors. We plan to start locally and eventually go international."

Hanna and his fellow fraternity brothers are finding ways to reach out to other people who are affected by Hodgkin's disease and other illnesses.

"We're providing support for families who are undergoing the treatment process. For instance, insurance covers the medical cost, but not the cost of things like transportation, the price of missing work, things like that," Hanna said. "We will pick up these pieces and help out with that. We will also provide support for families who have lost a child [to cancer]. We're going to help them find counseling and support groups."

The group's attempts have not gone unrecognized by University students and staff.

"They're in the process of fundraising for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center [in New York City]," said Inter-fraternity Council President Lou Awad, a Rutgers College senior. "It's all part of a multi-component way of fundraising and raising awareness in general."

The loss of Hanna had an impact on all of the members of Sigma Phi Epsilon and the University community.

"[When Sean passed away], the fraternity definitely felt a loss," Gallagher said. "The whole house was in a state I've never seen before. I've never seen so many guys so sad."

On a larger scale, some feel the fraternity's actions affect the image of Greek life at the University."This represents what Rutgers is all about and what Rutgers greek life is all about," said Inter-fraternity Council Director of Public Relations Kyle Zupanic, a Rutgers College senior. "We're too often depicted as something we're not, but times have changed. We're helping a cause."