Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fighting for their brother

Speaking of curing cancer (see previous post), Here we have a great example of the fraternity at its best. The SigEps at UNC are raising awareness, helping one of their brothers, and getting a haircut all at the same time.

Fighting for their brother : NinerOnline:

This massive sign was initially used for IFC Rush Week, however is now used to spread awareness of Jack and leukemia.
This massive sign was initially used
for IFC Rush Week, however it is now
used to spread awareness of Jack and
On Aug. 24, a brother of UNC Charlotte’s Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) was unfortunately diagnosed with acute leukemia, a treatable yet serious form of blood cancer. In an effort to support Jack Bretz and his fight, the brothers of SigEp have coordinated a philanthropy event called “Shave a SigEp.”
“The plan is simple,” explains Ian Petrere, Vice President of Member Development for SigEp. “We are not looking to raise millions of dollars through this event… We are, however, looking to rally together to show our brother how many people support him in his fight.”
Individual brothers have volunteered to shave their heads once the set amount of money they’re trying to raise is reached. Tuesday through Thursday of last week, the fraternity set up tables near the Student Union with jars that contained the brother’s name, picture and amount of money they strived to raise.
“The best feeling about doing this is that UNC Charlotte’s campus can come together for a person who has a life altering disease, and doing such a small thing as shaving our heads and our beards that the campus will want to come together to help a great cause,” said Phillip Stack, an Athletic Training major and brother of SigEp.
Stack plans on doing more than just shave his head. “I am also shaving my beard, which I haven’t shaved in over a year,” Stack said with a laugh.
Hazen Warlick, Bretz’s Big Brother in the fraternity, includes, “If you see a bunch of bald guys walking around campus in the next few weeks, you’ll know who it is and who it’s for.”
Warlick has been there since Bretz found out the bad news. “He called me just before our annual ‘Balanced Man Scholarship Banquet’,” Warlick recalls. “It was so out of the blue. But after the initial shock, we were all ready to get behind him 100%. We are a family, he is our brother, and he would have done the same for any of us.”
This experience has especially wowed the new brothers of the fraternity. Colin Jareb,  a freshman, explains that the impact of the experience should spread through not just the brotherhood but also the community, state, even world.
“The whole reason I decided to join SigEp was because they seemed to break the stereotype of fraternities and Greek life in general,” said Jareb. “This event definitely has shown me that we can come together as a brotherhood and do more for the community and just for the world. Hopefully it leaves an impact on the rest of the UNC Charlotte community as well.”
In Bretz’s eyes, “I figured I would just tell my big [Warlick] and he would tell everyone else and then it would slowly blow over. But instead I feel like everyone I’ve ever met and their grandma has come out to support me. I just didn’t think it’d be big news.”
Michael Brennan, president of the fraternity, has created a way for interested donors to pledge money online. Their goal is to reach $5,000.
All of the proceeds made online and in the jars will be sent to the American Cancer Society, which will then be utilized for leukemia research and treatment.
On Tuesday, their first day of fundraising, they reached $1,035 which was the highest amount of money raised between all three days.

On Wednesday, the amount came to $700.
On their last day, SigEp raised just over $800, coming to a total of about $2,600 from online and jar donations for all three days.
The numbers continue to elevate online even after tabling for three days.
On Thursday, Bretz shocked his brothers by visiting the table. Even though he had to reject hugs for the sake of spreading germs, he wore a smile and gave an “elbow hug,” which consisted of touching his elbow to another person’s elbow.
It was almost as if the sickness was put to the side for the time being. Bretz wore a giant smile on his face as he conversed with his friends and donors as he appeared happy and positive.
It has been reported that the Grand President of Sigma Phi Epsilon was in town last week. During his visit, Brennan and he stopped by Bretz’s house to meet him Saturday morning.
In Brennan’s words, “There is no position in any level of this fraternity, local or national, more important than his.” This is an incredibly honorable and memorable event for the brothers.
SigEp has utilized social media to its extent in order to spread the word about “Shave a SigEp.” And evidently, it has paid off.
The Facebook event “Shave a SigEp” has 351 confirmed members since Sunday morning and is increasing every day.
Not only is Bretz popular on Facebook but he is also becoming a favorite hashtag on Twitter. The hashtag #JACKedup has spread like wild fire.
Even the widely followed UNC Charlotte Girl Twitter account has joined the fight, tweeting, “Go to the Student Union all this week to get #JACKedup and help raise money for Leukemia patients! #ShaveASigEp”.
The Greek community has showed a tremendous amount of curiosity and encouragement, which has played a vital role in the word spreading on campus.
According to Petrere, after hearing about the cause, universities such as Coastal Carolina and Pennsylvania State have sent their support, as well as off-campus organizations.
When asked what the plans were after “Shave A SigEp,” Brennan reported that there is discussion concerning the continuation of this event as an annual philanthropy for their chapter.
“We would ideally like to make the event in Jack’s name and consistently donate the proceeds to a cancer-based research. We have big things in store and we want all of it to be for Jack,” said Brennan.
As Bretz continues to live with a positive outlook, he explains that he could not be more thrilled about continuing this charity after he has fought his battle.
“I didn’t expect any of this,” said Bretz. “I didn’t ask for any of this to happen, but now that it has I’m going to own it and make the best of it.”
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