A talent show, volleyball tournament and barbecue might look like ordinary social gatherings on a college campus, but, at Virginia Tech, these April events were part of Tau Kappa Epsilon’s annual TKE Week to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Virginia Tech’s TKE chapter, the top St. Jude fundraising chapter in the fraternity, raised more than $62,000 for St. Jude during TKE Week this year. The week included several donation booths on campus manned by TKE members and a day during which 15 percent of the proceeds from a local Blacksburg, Virginia, pizza restaurant were donated to St. Jude. In addition to TKE Week, the fraternity holds a St. Jude benefit concert each fall.
“St. Jude is pretty easy to be passionate about,” said Connor Bolen, TKE president at Virginia Tech. “When we present to other organizations to participate (in TKE Week), it’s pretty easy to sell.”
The national TKE organization fulfilled a five-year, $1 million commitment to St. Jude in June 2015 to name an MRI room in the Chili’s Care Center and has now pledged to raise $2.6 million in six years to name the synchrotron/particle accelerator, which helps St. Jude deliver proton therapy to patients.
In April, Bolen and 52 of his TKE brothers visited St. Jude, which was founded by TKE member Danny Thomas.
“Our chapter is successful because of our cause, and because of the brothers we have,” said Paul Fehgali, TKE philanthropy chair at Virginia Tech. “Once you give them the opportunity to come see the hospital, where the money is going and the potential we have being such a large group of guys, we can work together, and that is where we find our success.”
The Virginia Tech TKE chapter, which has about 100 current members, made its own five-year, $100,000 commitment to St. Jude. With this year’s TKE Week, the chapter fulfilled its commitment in just two years.
“What I get out of donating and supporting St. Jude is seeing these guys support a cause that is worth their time and effort,” Bolen said.