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Chicken Wings & Waxed Armpits: Virtual Fundraisers Help THON Orgs Get Creative

As we are now fully aware, THON will be held online this weekend for the first-ever time in its storied history. However, the coronavirus pandemic’s restrictions aren’t stopping the fight to beat childhood cancer.

Michelle Laraia, head THON chair for Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, understands that the pandemic will present problems, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be solved.

“We started the year off with the mindset of, ‘OK, we’re in a pandemic. This is happening,'” Laraia said. “But cancer doesn’t stop. These families aren’t stopping to struggle. We’re still going to do everything in our power to do the most we can.”

Zeta Tau Alpha sorority is partnered with the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, and their partnership led all organizations by raising more than $290,000 at THON 2020. Together, they were able to hold many successful virtual campaigns this season.

One of those campaigns was a chicken wing eating contest held at the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house. Donors were able to donate on a livestream where every donation received was matched by a chicken wing eater.

Despite the pandemic, Laraia said that Alpha Tau Omega and Zeta Tau Alpha is “shooting for higher than their goal was last year.”

Other Greek organizations also found a way to utilize the virtual landscape, too.

Sigma Delta Tau sorority’s biggest fundraiser, “THON dinner,” had been canceled this year due to social gathering guidelines. The event is a fundraiser where Sigma Delta Tau members would invite their THON families and their own families to get to know each other and hold live auctions and raffles.

Evelyn Benevenuto, primary THON chair for Sigma Delta Tau sorority, said that despite not being able to meet in person, their dinner was still a massive success. They were able to connect on Zoom with their THON families and still held a few fun events and contests, too.

Skyler Oken, fundraising chair for Sigma Delta Tau, explained how lack of events to do in person actually created a stronger bond between her and their THON families.

“Honestly, it was just a chance to talk. There was no agenda or anything we had to go over,” Oken said. “We wanted everyone to take a breath and take a step back from everything going on and appreciate that we can still do all of this.”

Apollo, one of Penn State’s many special interest organizations benefitting THON, found dares are one of its hidden fundraising gems.

“Coming into this year, we did not realize what it was going to be,” Apollo President Dante Marcucci said. “I don’t think anyone did.”

Marcucci said two of the organization’s most successful dares involved him and another member waxing their armpits after a THON meeting and putting their own spin on the ice bucket challenge.

Apollo was able to raise more than $10,000 for these two campaigns alone. In light of that, Apollo’s donor and alumni relations chair will anxiously await 16 buckets of ice being dumped on him this weekend.

Ohana, another THON special interest organization, was pleasantly surprised with how many new things worked that it may have not tried in past years.

Some of Ohana’s successful virtual campaigns involved delivering baked goods, breakfast sandwiches, and sugar cookies to the doorsteps of those who ordered them.

“We definitely learned that our audience loves not having to leave the house and getting food delivered right to them,” Maggie Delano, fundraising chair for Ohana, said.

Delano said that every organization has its own different message and cause, but everything they do is For The Kids.

“It’s all been very rewarding,” Delano smiled. “We’re excited for our hard work to pay off.”

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a junior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sport's fan, and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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