Members of the University’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity chapter took to wheelchairs and faced off against the Michigan Rollin’ Pistons — a youth wheelchair basketball team — Wednesday night to raise funds as part of the fraternity’s philanthropic activities.
The event in the University’s Sports Coliseum featured two games: one pitting the fraternity against the Pistons, and the other mixing members of each organization together to form new teams.
The Rollin’ Pistons are members of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association and travel and compete throughout the Midwest. The team is made up of kids with physical disabilities ages six to 18 from across the state.
John McSween, a sophomore at Father Gabriel Richard Catholic High School in Ann Arbor, said he enjoyed the event because it was a way for him to display his athleticism despite his disability.
“I couldn’t really play any school sports,” he said. “This was a way to show my competitiveness.”
A portion of the event’s proceeds will go to the Rollin’ Pistons to cover travel costs and help the team buy new jerseys. The wheelchair basketball game is part of a series of fundraising events put on by the fraternity this week, called “War of the Roses.”
LSA junior Zachary Robinson, Pi Kappa Phi philanthropy chair, said it was important that his fraternity host the basketball game to raise awareness for people with disabilities.
“They’re people, too, and they can do almost everything that an able-bodied person can,” he said.
The fraternity also organized a “penny war” Monday and its annual “Pie a Pi Kapp” event Tuesday, where participants could pay to throw a pie in the face of a fraternity member.
Robinson said the weeklong events had been successful so far, adding that the fraternity had raised over $600 from its penny war and Pie a Pi Kapp events.
The three events will culminate with the fraternity’s annual Empathy Dinner this Friday. Robinson said the annual Empathy Dinner is a meal where, for the first few minutes, guests are encouraged to show solidarity for people with disabilities by attempting to eat as though they are affected by various diseases, such as blindness or muscular dystrophy.
The War of the Roses is an event put on by Pi Kappa Phi chapters across the country; this week marks the University chapter’s first time doing so.
An integral part of the War of the Roses is sororities’ participation. Alpha Epsilon Phi, Delta Phi Epsilon, Zeta Tau Alpha and Gamma Phi Beta all partnered with Pi Kappa Phi this week.
Ultimately, one sorority will be crowned the winner of the War of the Roses based on multiple factors, including how many pennies they collected for the penny war, the number of pies they sold for students to peg Pi Kappa Phi members with and attendance points for watching the wheelchair basketball game.
After accepting their invitations to participate in the week’s festivities, each sorority nominated a member to represent them should they win the War of the Roses. The winner will be crowned and given a sash on behalf of their chapter, as well as a portion of the money raised throughout the week.
The Ability Experience, Pi Kappa Phi’s exclusive national outreach project that donates to people with disabilities, will receive 75 percent of the week’s proceeds. The remaining will be given to the winning sorority’s philanthropy committee.
LSA sophomore Justin Stern, a Pi Kappa Phi member, said he helped Robinson to coordinate the War of the Roses in an effort to expand the chapter’s philanthropy efforts.
“While philanthropy was good last year, we thought we could improve it,” Stern said.
“I didn’t expect it to be this successful in the first year, but I’m really happy that it has been,” Robinson added. “I think that if we start with a base like this, that next year and years beyond it’ll only get better.”