Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wisconsin Sig Eps Raise $12,500 with Tour de Touchdown

SigEp bikes 150 miles for charity
Fraternity members deliver signed game ball in Evanston in effort to raise money
By Lindsay Berger

While most University of Wisconsin students cheering for the Badgers on Wildcat terrain Saturday endured the 150-mile car ride from Madison to Evanston, Ill., nine members of a UW fraternity made the trek relay-style on a Schwinn.

The two-day bike ride was part of the 16th annual Tour de Touchdown, a Sigma Phi Epsilon philanthropic event that raises money for the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison.

This year, the fraternity met its goal of raising $12,500, up from $10,000 last year. The money will benefit the Child Life Fund, a program that provides toys and activities to help children experience a positive, stress-free hospital environment.

“[Philanthropy] is an important aspect of our fraternity,” SigEp member Justin Mozer said. “The thing we focus on is brotherhood, but you also need to be really well-rounded.”

Mozer said he thinks the event raises money for a worthy cause, and he added the Tour de Touchdown also projects a positive image of the Greek system to the community.

The Tour de Touchdown began Wednesday with a send-off at the fraternity’s former Langdon Street house, which was destroyed in a May 2008 fire. In the past, children from the American Family Children’s Hospital have joined SigEp fraternity brothers for the cookout, but this year’s H1N1 outbreak prevented children from participating in the send-off.

Bikers departed from Madison Thursday morning and arrived in Milwaukee Thursday evening, where a UW alumnus joined the student riders for the second leg of the trip from Milwaukee to Evanston Friday.

SigEp members took turns riding the bicycle, donated by Budget Bicycle Center, to Evanston where they presented a football signed by Coach Bret Bielema to the Northwestern University SigEp chapter.

Each year, the fraternity’s members raise money and bike to an away football game as part of the Tour de Touchdown. Last year, bikers rode 400 miles to Indiana for the Badger-Hoosier game, and in previous years SigEp members have biked to Iowa and Minnesota.

Most of the money Sig Ep raises for the event comes from a sorority football tournament the fraternity hosts, Mozer said. Registration fees and T-shirt sales for the Powderpuff Flag Football game raise a large portion of the money, and other donations come from businesses and individuals.

UW senior Greg Mortner, who biked two shifts for a total of 15 to 20 miles, said he believes the tour embodies the philanthropic spirit of the Greek system.

“Most important of all is just to make sure that people understand that we’re doing all of these great things for the community and show the good aspects of what being in the Greek system is all about,” Mortner said.

UW senior Greg Bostrom biked 13.5 miles of the trip and said the bike ride made Sig Ep’s philanthropic efforts more tangible for him, adding he did not train prior to the tour.

“It was just all the motivation of the kids,” Bostrom said. “We didn’t need that training business. We just had that internal drive.”

Bostrom said though the tour gave him a taste of competitive biking, he does not plan on going pro.

“My bike riding ends here, I think,” Bostrom said.

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