The Epsilon Pi Alpha Fraternity raised over $2,000 this past week for the National
Multiple Sclerosis Society to help spread awareness for MS, a disease that attacks the central nervous system.
“The inspiration of our philanthropy week, MS Awareness, stems from the fact that one of our own, Tyler Menendez, was diagnosed with MS. Because of this, we felt a deep connection to this terrible disease and wanted to bring attention to it,” Junior fraternity member Frankie Zobitz said.
Every year, Epsilon Pi Alpha, known as the Eppies, spend one week hosting events to fundraise and spread awareness for their philanthropy.
This year they chose to partner with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“We changed to this organization because one of our brothers was diagnosed with MS and we all saw how the disease changed his life,” Junior member Michael Orr said.
Some of these events included a Chipotle fundraiser, $1 Bingo night at the Embassy Bar & Grill in St. Peter, and a Dive Dance where insomnia cookies were served and students were encouraged to wear orange to support the cause.
Fifty percent of all the money fundraised at Chipotle was donated to the National MS Society, as well as a portion of the proceeds from bingo.
The Eppies put on a number of skits to raise awareness and two members of the fraternity, Senior Brian Riste and Junior Ben DeSutter, shaved their heads to raise more money.
“Through donations online, tabling, and our Chipotle profit-sharing event, we clearly raised a good amount of money, but we had hoped for more MS awareness,” Orr said.
The boys participated in the National MS Foundation walk in Spring Lake Park, Mankato on Saturday.
Multiple Sclerosis disables the brain and spinal cord and eventually can cause nerves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged.
Connections between the brain and the rest of the body become more difficult.
Some people lose the ability to walk, while others may experience periods of remission with no new symptoms.
Others suffer from vision and speech problems, fatigue, weakened or brittle bones, weakened muscles, and problems with balance.
There is no known cause and no cure, but there are ways to slow or lessen the effects of MS.
Research shows that environmental factors and genetics may play a part in the development of MS, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“I honestly didn’t know anything about the disease… I thought if we as a group didn’t know much then the rest of campus was probably unaware,” Junior member James Pixley said.
“My role was to involve people in our recruitment group. We wanted younger Gusties to see what we were about and to be passionate about service.”
The fraternity was founded in 1928 and then again in 1995 after being banned in 1988.
According to their mission statement, they “pride themselves in respect for others, and value accountability to the men of the fraternity and the community as a whole through philanthropic action, scholastic involvement, and the goal of excellence in everyday life.”
“It has shown that there’s always support no matter what you’re struggling with and there are always amazing organizations that are constantly working to end these diseases,” Junior Rafay Arshad said.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS awareness walks take place throughout most of May across the United States.
World MS Day takes place on May 30, 2018 and will involve many organizations and individuals looking to raise money and awareness for future research of MS and for the 2.5 million people who are affected worldwide.
“I would like to think it greatly opened the eyes of many students and faculty on campus, and made them reflect on their lives. It isn’t a disease that’s often talked about, so I think this week served as a reminder to the severity of this disease and how it can affect just about any one,” Zobitz said.
“I really hope that people learned what MS actually is and how amazing the National MS Society’s work is. I hope that the Gustavus Community will continue to support this cause as much as they did this year,” Pixley said.