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The Bald Cancer-Fighters

Saturday, July 8, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Brothers Raise Thousands of Dollars for the Kids

By Stephen Lee
Lewis University, ‘10
Director of Advocacy and Outreach

baldSee that kid with a shaved head? She may be battling cancer. See that grown man with a shaved head? You might presume he’s battling hair loss.

However, the two can be connected! Every year, people shave their heads to raise money for the battle against childhood cancer, including brothers of Phi Kappa Theta.

This is all to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants (over $200 million since its inception in 1999).

For eight years running, Georgia Institute of Technology Phi Kaps have enlisted teams of alumni and collegiate brothers for the Atlanta event at Rí Rá Irish Pub, raising a total of $31,000 in eight years.

The chapter’s involvement in the event started when a philanthropist and actor by the name of David Alexander attended an IFC meeting in 2010 and convinced the Greeks to join him in a fundraising campaign for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

baldBrother Sean Wagner (Georgia Institute of Technology, ‘14) was at that meeting, and has participated ever since.

This year alone, the Georgia Tech Phi Kap team raised nearly $12,000 to treat childhood cancer.

Brother Henry Dunker Jr. (Lewis University, ‘04) knows the process all too well. He’s grown his wild mane each year for the last seven years, only to shave it in the name of St. Baldrick’s.

For the past five years he’s actually hosted the event, which this year raised over $17,000 for their event at Shenanigan’s Bar and Grille in Pittsburgh.

"Every two minutes, a kid is diagnosed with some kind of cancer,” explains Dunker. "That also means a family will be changed every two minutes. With this in mind, only 4% of government funding goes solely to childhood cancer research.”

Dunker Jr. got started when he saw his colleague’s daughter battling cancer. He credits her with his continued inspiration. "She has been my hero.”

baldHe believes his membership in PKT has contributed to his willingness to give back. "I think PKT opened me up to a whole different side. While in school, I went to other chapters, regional conferences, national conferences, and put myself around many great leaders of all different kinds. I may not have realized what this did for me at the moment, but I can look back now and see how much the time as an undergraduate with PKT has shaped how I go about and push every year for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.”

Another Phi Kap brother, Jeff Otte (DePaul University, ‘00) made a surprise appearance at the St. Baldrick’s event. He was joined by his nine-year-old son Brandon, who has been battling brain cancer (see article in The Temple – Spring 2016). They drove from Chicago to Pittsburgh to support Dunker Jr. and his St. Baldrick’s fundraiser.

David Alexander, the man who spoke at the 2010 Georgia Tech IFC meeting, reflects on his journey with St. Baldrick’s.

"We’ve raised roughly 1.2 million dollars, which is still incredible to me. This has been the best thing I’ve ever done with my life.” He also thanked the Greeks at Georgia Tech, saying " The involvement of Phi Kaps and other fraternities is critical to the success of our event each year (amounting to over half of our fundraising at the event).”

Top Image: Henry Dunker Jr. and Brandon Otte.

Middle Image: Brother Sean Wagner (Georgia Institute of Technology, ‘14) gets bald. Image: Percy Yeung Photography

Bottom Image: Active brothers, alumni and friends of Ph iKap worked hard to raise over $11,000 for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

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