by Kiera Wiatrak
The brothers of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity are aiming to raise $12,500 for the American Family Children's Hospital as part of a benefit bike ride that begins this week.
The Tour de Touchdown bikers will leave from Madison and arrive in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Nov. 21 in time to deliver the game ball autographed by Wisconsin Badgers football coach Bret Bielema before the Wisconsin-Northwestern football game.
The members of SigEp have spent the fall semester raising money for their annual fundraiser via family, community, and online donations. So far, they have raised more than $10,000 for the American Family Children's Hospital, and anticipate more donors to help them reach their goal of $12,500. In their 18 years of participation, they've raised more than $110,000.
"The biking shows our enthusiasm for such a great philanthropy," says SigEp member Bryant Nelson. "We've raised all this money and we want to display the determination we've had all semester in biking all the way to the opposing team's town."
In previous years, the bikers have delivered game balls to various Big Ten schools including Indiana, Minnesota, and Iowa.
A send-off celebration for the bikers will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 18 on the lawn of SigEp's old residence at 237 Langdon St.
SigEp will hold a cookout for the nine brothers who are biking, the rest of the fraternity, local media and representatives from the children's hospital and the Dean of Students Office. The event will start at 4 p.m. and last approximately two hours.
The week before the game, local businesses including Big Red's Steaks, D.P. Dough and Chipotle will donate a portion of their profits to the cause. In addition, Sconnie Nation, SPS Commerce, and Wagner Spray Tech have made substantial business contributions towards Tour de Touchdown.
Funds raised from the Tour de Touchdown will go to the Child's Life Program at the children's hospital, which helps child patients and their families cope with hospitalization, and aims to make life a little easier for hospitalized children.
The funds buy books, computers and other recreational items, as well as helps pay to install closed circuit television systems in the rooms of immobile children so they can participate in group activities.
"It gives us a sense of reaching out to the community," says Nelson. "It's a local hospital so we actually get to see the results on a firsthand level."