Phi Delta Theta fights ALS


Courtesy of Washington Epsilon, Phi Delta Theta

Members of Washington Epsilon, Phi Delta Theta posing for a photo during the 173 mile relay run. Over the past 28 years, the fraternity has raised more money to fight ALS than any other chapter in the country.

By Karolyn Wambold, Reporter

Washington Epsilon, Phi Delta Theta, became the No. 1 chapter in the U.S. for fundraising toward helping those with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS.

Over the last 28 years of being founded, Phi Delta Theta has raised over $87,000 toward those with ALS. The members of the fraternity ran a three day, 173 mile adventure to help with the money raising.

“Our fraternity was inspired by Lou Gehrig who had ALS and played baseball,” Washington Epsilon, Phi Delta Theta Public Relations Chair Zachary Bowman said. “This is our reason for choosing ALS as our philanthropy project.”

Gehrig was a member of a different Phi Delta Theta chapter.

There is a relay run from Cheney to Vantage that consists of members, non-members and alumni running for a few miles before tagging one another to continue another few miles, according to Bowman.

According to Phi Delta Theta member Ethan Burleigh, the fraternity requires its members to each raise $150 before participating in the run. Typically, members of the fraternity raise between $300 and $1,000 per year.

According to Bowman, the 173 mile run spans over a three day period. The fraternity has been recognized as an Iron Phi Chapter for four years in a row for raising at least $10,000 a year.

According to Phi Delta Theta member Steve Olinger, the chapter has been successful in raising money for this cause because it has affected many people around the country who have ALS and the public has become more aware of the disease.

“Chapters from all around the country and Canada raise thousands of dollars every year,” Olinger said. “Members who raise $1,000 or more and complete an athletic event are given the title ‘Iron Phi’ and are given their own separate bond numbers.”

This year, the fraternity raised just over $16,000, and since the first fundraiser over the last 28 years, EWU’s chapter leads the nation amongst all other chapters, according to Burleigh.

Every day, 15 people are diagnosed with ALS and are given, on average, two to five years to live.”

— Steve Olinger, Phi Delta Theta member

“Eastern has surpassed two major universities in raising money for ALS,” Bowman said. “These two universities are the University of Georgia and the University of Utah.”

According to Olinger, anyone can become an Iron Phi even if they are not a member of Phi Delta Theta. As of today, there are almost 900 Iron Phis that have completed the challenge.

“Part of our success is from our new members into the fraternity,” Bowman said. “We push three cardinal rules onto our new members and focus on giving back to the entire community.”

According to Burleigh, a combined total of around 45 participants ended up running throughout the three days this year. This included both members, non-members and alumni.

“Due to the freeway being hazardous, we ended up running the backroads to Vantage, making it safer for our runners,” Bowman said.

According to Bowman, the run takes place in the spring which gives the newer members a chance to warm up to the other members of the chapter.

“Every day, 15 people are diagnosed with ALS and are given on average 2-5 years to live,” Olinger said.

Because there is less research regarding a cure for ALS, the outlook for those diagnosed is grim. Phi Delta Theta is doing its part to make a difference.