The University of Massachusetts’ only fraternity to possess and operate its own philanthropic organization happily sweated its way through its latest charitable event last week.
Held on Thursday, Dec. 1, UMass’ Pi Kappa Phi chapter’s Pedal for Push event had its members pedaling on three stationary exercise bicycles borrowed from the body shop at Totman Gymnasium from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. inside the Campus Center by the entrance closest to the University store.
Passersby cheered and smiled at the brothers, who, soaked in sweat, smiled and cheered back at those who gave donations in support of the group’s cause. Donations from students and members of the community passing by amounted to $440, which will go directly to the chapter’s national organization.
As recipients of the “Circle of Giving” grant, the fraternity will collect 25 percent of its annual fundraising in the form of a check. The money will then be presented to the local organization Best Buddies Massachusetts, which is an organization that, according to its website, is a “nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Pi Kappa Phi’s Executive Philanthropy Chair David Barnstone, 19, said the fraternity’s philanthropic organization Push America Executive, which has been in existence for over three decades, chose to donate to Best Buddies Massachusetts because the organization “really helps us connect with people with disabilities.”
“[Best Buddies] is really what our organization is about, which is changing the way people view disabilities in society,” he said.
Barnstone said the event was more successful than he had anticipated.
“I had started this as primarily an awareness event. I was expecting to raise $100 if we got lucky, but the generosity of people just astounded me,” he said. “People were incredibly receptive. We got a lot of donations, obviously, and even if [people walking by] didn’t stop, they kind of turned their head and said things like ‘oh, wow, that seems like a cool thing to do.’ We definitely brought a lot of attention to Push America and what we were trying to do.”
Barnstone added that his brothers “got really into” the event.
“We had a couple guys race each other to see who could get their speed up over the other one; there was a lot of sweat,” he said.
“Pedal For Push was a great event,” said fraternity brother Kevin Muench in an e-mail. “It raised a lot of awareness in all the people walking by and everyone’s generous donations will definitely be very helpful to PUSH and people with disabilities.”
“I also had a great time belting out Zac Brown Band while I pedaled,” Muench added and also saying he looked forward to the fraternity’s next event.
The fraternity hopes to hold a similar, but larger scale event next semester. They want to make the bike-a-thon a 24-hour event and hope to borrow additional stationary bikes from the campus.
Alyssa Creamer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.