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February 24th, 2014

Greek Organizations Awe with Helping Hands

Every calendar year, JMU’s Fraternity and Sorority Life hosts the Excellence Awards to showcase Greek organizations of particular accomplishment. The Outstanding Philanthropic Event or Program award continually depicts the giving nature of JMU’s Greek life.  Each year, both a sorority and fraternity are picked for their exceptional philanthropic efforts.

This year, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Sigma Sigma Sigma won the Outstanding Philanthropic Event or Program award. These two organizations represent JMU’s compassionate nature and desire to make the world a better place—from signing up bone marrow donors to promoting in-patient child play programs for sick children at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill and the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. 

The fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon débuted a unique, attention-grabbing event to raise money for the Be the Match Foundation, an organization with the mission of increasing bone marrow registry so matches are found for those fighting Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Sickle Cell Anemia. The event, titled “Flight Against Leukemia,” was held on April 13th, 2013 at the New Market Airport in New Market, Virginia. Guests were able to fly over the Shenandoah Valley and enjoy music, food, and yard games. About 200 attendees were counted, and $3,050 was raised for the Be the Match Foundation.  

Momentum for the event occurred after a Sigma Phi Epsilon member’s good friend was diagnosed with Leukemia. This member felt strongly about starting a Be the Match chapter at JMU and switching his fraternity's philanthropy to Be the Match. The member’s friend beat leukemia and continues to be a source of inspiration for the fraternity.

Another aspect of the event that deserves attention is the reasoning behind incorporating planes. “I've always had a passion for flying, and I wanted to make an event that allowed me to share it with my fraternity brothers…It [Flight Against Leukemia] was a milestone for me personally, because I saw how taking my passion of flying, sharing it with others, and adding a good cause to it could create such an awesome opportunity to do good,” said senior Pratt Templeton, President Emeritus of Sigma Phi Epsilon. “…ends [curative practices for Leukemia] are only reached when people step up and raise awareness and funds to support organizations like Be the Match.”

The Second Annual Flight Against Leukemia will be held on Saturday, April 5th, 2014.

The sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma represented two programs that earned them the Outstanding Philanthropic Event or Program award: Leslie George Memorial Fund for Eating Disorder Awareness and a kickball tournament at the local Purcell Park.

During  Eating Disorder Awareness month (February) each year, the sorority holds a speak out and other events to make the public aware of eating disorders and their impact. These events are part of the their support of the Leslie George Memorial Fund for Eating Disorder Awareness in memory of Leslie George, JMU Sigma Sigma Sigma sister who died in 2000 from complications from an eating disorder. Leslie’s parents are involved in some of these activities, and they are open to the public.

Created in honor of Robbie Page, son of a former national Tri Sigma president, the tournament fosters the theme “Sigma Serves Children” by supporting child play therapy programs for terminally ill children in the hospital. “We put on a kickball tournament because it is a fun and easy way for JMU students to get involved, make a team, and donate to a good cause,” says current Sigma Sigma Sigma president, Jessica Boyle.

This fall, they had about 70 teams of ten people participate in the tournament and earned $8,500 for the cause. “As Sigma Sigma Sigma sisters we feel strongly about child play therapy programs because we all believe it is amazing to give seriously ill children a way to express what they are feeling during their treatments and surgeries. We all love knowing we are able to help so many children.”

Any Greek life member can nominate their organization for the different excellence awards. For more information, please visit http://info.jmu.edu/fsl/members-area/awards/