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Last Wednesday, all three soror­ities par­tic­i­pated in an hour-long banner com­pe­tition. Lucy Meckler | Courtesy

Chi Omega members shaved the heads of the fra­ternity brothers of Sigma Chi this past week in the Grewcock Student Union for a special cause. The activity was part of “Derby Days,” which is a week of events and com­pe­tition among the soror­ities on campus to see who can raise the most money for cancer research.

Each year, Sigma Chi chapters host “Derby Days” across the country, which includes Hillsdale’s Alpha Kappa chapter. The majority of the pro­ceeds go to the Huntsman Cancer Institute with 10 percent going back to the winning sorority’s phil­an­thropic cause.

Founded by former Sigma Chi member, Jon Huntsman Sr., the Huntsman Cancer Institute is a cancer research facility and hos­pital located at the Uni­versity of Utah in Salt Lake City.

The Institute has 200 clinical trials open at any given time and more than 450 cancer research projects sup­ported by sci­en­tific funding agencies, and it hosted nearly 18,000 patient visits in 2016. The Institute is the pre­ferred phil­an­thropic partner for the national Sigma Chi fra­ternity.

According to junior Sigma Chi Vice Pres­ident Clayton Vander Laan, the Institute is special because all money donated goes directly towards research.

“Every penny is donated to the Institute,”  Van­derlaan said. “That’s some­thing that is reas­suring to us and people we are asking to donate money. Huntsman puts every piece of money that we give them towards the cause.”

Rather than donate to another area of cancer treatment, junior Pledge Edu­cator Tristan Koch explained the vital element of clinical research.

“Most of the ground­breaking research has been through clinical trials that are suc­cessful,” Koch said. “We are trying to be the gen­er­ation that ends cancer. We think that the best way to do that is through clinical research.”

Sophomore Phil­an­thropy Chair Joey Sarno has been per­sonally affected by cancer with two parents both in remission from cancer. With a mother on the board of the Boston North Cancer Asso­ci­ation and a grand­father who was one of the first radi­ol­o­gists in the country, Sarno is no stranger to the dif­ferent char­ities devoted to cancer research.

“I’ve been around that my entire life,” Sarno said. “It’s great to see where the actual money goes. It goes to these machines, it goes to the treatment, to edu­cating doctors to learn new tech­niques and develop suc­cessful treat­ments.”

Sarno said it’s really cool to see the ded­i­cation shown by those who are com­mitted to research. He said that same ded­i­cation to helping people is seen in his own fra­ternity.

“We’re a fra­ternity, we’re a group of guys, but we’re really ded­i­cated to helping other people,” Sarno said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to instill. We’re not just out there for each other. We’re trying to make the world a better place.”

Van­derlaan also empha­sized the ubiq­uitous nature of cancer, and how Sigma Chi hopes to change that.

“Cancer is some­thing that touches just about everybody,” Van­derlaan said. “It’s such a heart­breaking thing, but that’s the reality that we face. Any­thing we can do now and in the future to help reduce that and end this ter­rible disease — that’s our biggest moti­vation.”

The fra­ternity raised $7500 over the course of the week. Chi Omega raised the most funds with $2886.

Junior and Chi Omega member Lucy Meckler is respon­sible for coor­di­nating events with Sigma Chi throughout the week for her sorority. This position is coined “Derby Dollie,” and one member in each sorority holds the title.

According to Meckler, the phil­an­thropic cause fills a gap on campus when it comes to curing cancer.

“Because it doesn’t exist on campus already, it’s a nice outlet to allow stu­dents to give back to cancer patients,” Meckler said. “It’s really hum­bling. We read dif­ferent stories in our house about people who have been affected by cancer who have been either in Chi Omega or Sigma Chi and how our money is directly impacting their lives.”