While many students were getting hyped about the last Michigan football home game of the season over the weekend, Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers were already prepping for Saturday’s matchup against Ohio State.
Seventy-two Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers ran roughly 90 miles with a football from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon as part of the fraternity’s annual Rivalry Run. Pike holds the event each year in which runners carry a football from Ann Arbor to Columbus — or vice-versa depending on where the game is — on a 187-mile relay divided between two groups of runners.
Normally the event takes place the week before the Saturday football game, but because the game takes place during Thanksgiving break this year, the event was pushed back one week.
Business junior Mike Adelman, co-director of this year’s event, said in past years the run was split between Pike and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity — also known as FIJI. But this year, due to differing opinions of where the proceeds should go, FIJI decided to take part in another fundraising event.
As a result, the University’s Pike chapter joined with Ohio State’s chapter in order to continue the annual run.
LSA junior Jared Jaffe, current president of Pike, said having the chance to work closely with Pike’s OSU chapter was a great experience and allowed members to not only raise money for cancer in a “unique way” but also to “grow as a fraternity.”
Jaffe said representatives from Pike nationals loved the idea of two of their chapters joining together for one cause. Jaffe said the event was even more powerful because the collaboration was between two groups that are rivals.
“A lot of friendships were fostered,” he said.
The proceeds raised by this year’s run will go to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Coach Carr Cancer Fund, Adelman said and new Pike members were required to raise $10,000 collectively.
Though the run ended last week, the brothers are still raising money for the cause. A recently created website — which will run through the end of the semester — allows the members to track donations and for friends and family to make online donations. As of 6 p.m. last night the brothers raised $17,759 towards their $40,000 goal.
In the last three years, the Pike Rivalry Run raised more than $150,000 for the American Cancer Society and UM Coach Carr Cancer Fund.
“The fight to support cancer never stops,” Adelman said. “We’re not going to stop when the run is over. We want to raise as much as possible and keep the door open as long as we can.”
Throughout the event, participating brothers could run as many miles as they felt comfortable. Most averaged two to three miles before they switched with a brother and rode in vans following the runners, Adelman said.
However, he added some brothers ran more than 10 miles each as a challenge to both themselves and others.
Jaffe said the brothers collectively “run every single foot between (Michigan) Stadium and Ohio State’s stadium.”
The most rewarding part of the experience was hearing the feedback from the Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Adelman said.
According to Adelman, the money is being used for patient care, patient family care and research. Before the event, Adelman went every week to turn in the money raised that week. He said all the positive feedback was “amazing”, particularly since one fraternity organized the fundraiser and the money went toward a local cause.
“This year was really special because we’re supporting a truly local effort,” he said.
Jaffe said that while their members were running, some thought about the cause but others were more focused on the moment.
“For me, personally, I was having a blast with it,” he said. “We’d pretend to do football plays and have a fun experience. For some people it’s also more sentimental.”
LSA sophomore Gene Taras, co-director of the run, said he was fascinated by the idea of the run when he first joined the fraternity freshman year and was inspired to take on a larger role in the event.
“I’ve been a Michigan football fan my whole life,” Taras said. “I thought it’d be cool to run the actual game day football and give back to the community at the same time.”
Taras ran a total of 11 miles and said he was motivated by his personal family connections to cancer.
“I have a bunch of family members that died or had cancer,” he said. “(The event) meant a lot to me. Every extra mile I ran was for them.”
Adelman said Pike plans to continue to hold the annual event and hopes to raise more money each year.