“Light your luminaria if your significant other has been affected by cancer. Light your luminaria if your mother has been affected by cancer. Light your luminaria if your father has been affected by cancer. Light your luminaria if your brother or sister have been affected by cancer…”
On March 30, 2019, Indiana University’s chapter of Delta Sigma Pi hosted its 9th Annual American Cancer Society Gala. Originally, the co-ed professional fraternity created the gala to raise funds for a member battling cancer. The gala has now become a celebration of compassion and courage, and Delta Sigma Pi’s largest philanthropy event of the year.
Brittany Mueller, Delta Sigma Pi’s vice president of community service, spent the nine weeks prior to the event working tirelessly with community partners from the American Cancer Society. She went on to lead the fraternity in raising nearly $6,000, including proceeds from ticket sales and the event’s silent auction, to further innovations and developments in cancer research.
As a professional fraternity in the Kelley School of Business, Delta Sigma Pi emphasizes the importance of professional development. The group classifies community service, diversity, and brotherhood (friendship) as necessary pieces in becoming a well-rounded individual. The community service aspect helps unite individuals across the organization toward a common purpose. “Being able to help plan the gala has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had thus far in my college journey,” said Molly Thomas, a Kelley School sophomore and Delta Sigma Pi community service committee member. “Working with committee has allowed me to become closer to my friends while moving toward a greater goal.”
Attendees heard speakers throughout the evening while enjoying dinner and a musical performance by a student jazz band called Side Hustle. Two current members of Delta Sigma Pi shared friends’ and family’s cancer battle stories. An American Cancer Society representative described the impact of the nonprofit, and the opportunities within the Relay For Life fundraiser. Shayla Holtkamp, a cancer survivor and a faculty member in the School of Public Health-Bloomington shared her breast cancer journey and said she calls herself “a walking women’s health issue” to students in women’s health studies. While their stories candidly expressed the tragedies and pain experienced by those diagnosed with cancer and the people who love them, they also expressed the lessons learned, and wisdom gained. “This event really opened my eyes to the strength of others and the importance of embracing your loved ones,” said David Hoban, a member of Delta Sigma Pi and a senior in the Kelley School.
Upon the event’s conclusion, one of Delta Sigma Pi’s newest members, Aditya Mahendran said he loved the event. “They [the speakers] made it personal, and that’s so much more powerful than statistics. This fight is about helping someone’s significant other, mom, dad, cousin – who knows? But, it is not just a number.”
IU Corps is excited to see the continued partnership of student organizations with community partners. As Delta Sigma Pi furthers community service engagement, they look forward to the planning and preparation for next year’s gala.