A new fraternity on campus held a unique fundraiser, earlier this week, to support prostate cancer research.
This past Monday through Wednesday, the members of Alpha Tau Omega stationed themselves at various locations around the campus, holding poster board signs and noisily shaking their cans at the myriad of passers-by, asking them to donate their spare change to fund research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center.
Prostate cancer is the most frequent cancer among American men with over 180,000 new cases diagnosed and over 39,000 deaths each year, according to American Cancer Society estimates. It is the seconding leading cause of cancer related death in males after lung cancer.
As the fraternity’s philanthropy chairman, Jason Fischer hoped that in addition to raising awareness and funds for important research, people might see that there is more to Greek life than the all too familiar stereotypes. Fischer said that this is the first time a college organization has coordinated with Fox Chase on an initiative that specifically targets prostate cancer.
“Since we’re new on campus, I felt it would be good to do something positive for the community as a way of announcing our presence. Not many people think beyond the images of beer-chugging guys when they think of fraternities, and we’d like to change that mindset,” said Fischer.
Although it’s hard to come up with something to say about prostate cancer to random students and staff as they’re walking to class or lunch, the brothers seemed to be doing quite well in their efforts. Their loud presence and persistent shaking generated a surprising amount of responses from a wide range of people.
At the Johnson and Hardwick breezeway, teeming with students as well as a few parents and their freshmen to be, the giving was generous. Handful after handful of loose change filled up the extra large coffee cans more quickly than anticipated, and more empty cans had to be gotten.
Over at the Bell Tower, where throngs of students were relishing in the sunny delight that was Monday afternoon, the brothers continued to ply their trade with much success. Hand after hand dug into pockets, wallets, and backpacks to forage for loose coins and the occasional dollar bill.
More members were also dispatched to Broad Street and some even took the subway to City Hall in an effort to perhaps tap some even deeper pockets.
In a strong show of support for the opposite sex, a seemingly large number of women contributed their unwanted silver to the brothers’ cause. The members also said they were slightly dismayed that more teachers and staff didn’t dig deep when the big can came shaking.
ATO is not yet an official chapter on Temple University campus, it is considered a “colony” that is under the strict review of the national chapter. After closely monitoring the group’s progress, the national chapter will decide if they will grant them official status.
ATO was founded in 1865 at the Virginia Military Institute and was the first fraternity founded as a national organization, not a local or sectional fellowship. The brothers hope they will be incorporated by the start of next spring semester.
While researching the cause, Fischer learned that with early detection and medical treatment, localized prostate cancer can often be cured by surgery or radiation therapy.
“Many of the sororities at Temple are involved in fund raising, but few of the men’s organizations that I’m aware of try to coordinate programs like this,” said Fischer.
ATO’s first humanitarian effort was a canned food drive for the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank, but the bounty received was not as great as the brothers anticipated. Fischer anticipates the can shake to be much more of a success, hopefully generating over $1000.