Fraternity, sorority team up to remember past members, raise money for MADD

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While most students were catching some Z’s at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, CJ Wendt was riding a bike in the middle of campus.

It’s not just any kind of bike, it’s a stationary one, and he was riding it as part of an annual bike-a-thon to raise money with his Sigma Nu brothers and members of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority.

“My favorite part about biking for it is being able to say I was up at this ridiculous hour helping for a good cause,” Wendt said.

The bike is parked in the Union Oval, where students can pass by and donate money, benefiting Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or enter a raffle.

Wendt likes to call out to passing students when it’s his turn on the bike.

“I really like just kind of having fun with the people walking by,” he said.

Students ask a lot of questions when they pass the bike and the tent set up, with music blaring from speakers, Wendt said.

“They ask things like: ‘Are you powering the speakers with the bike; Do you have a way of telling how far you’ve gone’ and ‘What are you raffling off?’” he said.

While Wendt likes biking and hanging out with his fraternity brothers and the Alpha Xi Deltas, it’s not all fun and games.

It can get “kind of frustrating,” he said, when people hear of the causes and say they don’t want to help.

The event began after Sigma Nu lost a brother due to drunk driving about six years ago, Wendt said.

After the I-75 crash two years ago, which killed three Alpha Xi Delta women and injured two, Sigma Nu asked the sorority to join them in the bike-a-thon, said junior Abby Benninger, the PR chair for Alpha Xi Delta. The crash two years ago wasn’t caused by a drunk driver, but it’s a common thing to bring Sigma Nu and Alpha Xi Delta together, as Sigma Nu is Alpha Xi’s brother fraternity.

“It’s nice to pair up with them for this because we don’t get to do a lot with them,” Benninger said.

Alpha Xi Delta’s philanthropy is Autism Speaks, but Benninger said she likes the change of raising money for a different cause.

“It’s nice to help more than one organization,” she said.

Sophomore June LaRiccia, a member of Delta Zeta, stopped by to donate at the bike-a-thon.

“I saw that they were doing an event and I decided to donate because we support donating to other sororities and fraternities,” she said.

She said she thinks a problem is that some people just walk by.

“I think people do pay attention, especially if they’re in Greek life … we’re like one big happy family,” she said.

The event keeps the wheels of the bike turning 24/7. The event began Sunday at 6 p.m. and ends Friday at 6 p.m.

The only time the wheels stop is Thursday night at 8 p.m., for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the sisters and brother, who have died.

At around 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, the event had raised about $120, Wendt said. This past year, around $500 was raised and the year before that, the fraternity raised around $1,700, Wendt said.

“I’d like to see us raise $1,000 at least, and double last year,” he said.

Wendt has been part of the bike-a-thon for his whole four years at the University and he said it gives the brothers a chance to hang out and be friends.

It’s a good way to show people a positive aspect of Greek life, he said.

“I want [people] to know it’s great if they can donate and come out and help us,” Wendt said. “Just because we’re on a bike and we’re a big group of people hanging out doesn’t mean they can’t come up and talk to us.”