Thursday, April 15, 2010

San Diego Sig Eps Raise $$$ to Help Brother

Fraternity honors friend left blind by rare disease
What: Beach soccer tournament to raise money for Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy research
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Mariner’s Point, Mission Bay

San Diego State’s Sigma Phi Epsilon says it’s trying to break the frat-guy stereotype.

Its 130 members have maintained the highest GPA of all fraternities on campus for the past four years. Last year, they worked about 5,000 community service hours.

This weekend, they will go one step further by putting on the second annual Sig Ep Sun Cup, a beach soccer tournament seeking to raise $10,000 for the Doheny Eye Institute in honor of a legally blind fraternity brother. Sigma Phi Epsilon chapters from UC San Diego and University of San Diego also are participating.

“We’re always striving to destroy the negative stereotype of fraternities,” said Jeremy Swartz, 21, vice president of communications for the fraternity’s SDSU chapter. “We want to show the world that Greeks can do great things.”

Jeremy Poincenot was 19 when he was diagnosed with Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, a rare genetic disorder with no cure or treatment. The disease that afflicts 1 in 50,000 people, usually males, left the then-sophomore with only a little peripheral vision. Poincenot said the diagnosis made him contemplate dropping out of school until he realized the support he had from his fraternity.

Now 20, Poincenot still attends SDSU, where he majors in international business. He gives motivational speeches to local community groups and is currently ranked as the fourth best blind golfer in the nation. Poincenot picked the Doheny Eye Institute in Los Angeles as the recipient of the event’s donations to support the hospital’s research for Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy.

“We stuck by him, we got him through,” Swartz said. “Now he lives with the fraternity, he’s a leader in our fraternity and not a single guy in the house doesn’t consider him a friend.”

The Sun Cup begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mariner’s Point on Mission Bay. Fraternity members will sell food and coach the soccer teams while members from at least two dozen sororities from SDSU, UCSD and USD compete in the tournament.

Food vendors and live bands, including a DJ and reggae group Tribal Theory, will be present. Money raised through sorority entry fees, T-shirt sales and fundraisers at local eateries will go toward the eye institute donation.

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