September 24, 2019 | 73° F

‘Derby Days’ surpasses $100K goal


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Photo by Courtesy of Strato Doumanis |

Members of the Sigma Delta Tau sorority perform their dance routine Saturday during the last day of the “Derby Days” competition at the Livingston Recreation Center.


After a week of competition and fundraising, Sigma Chi fraternity beat their previous record by earning a total $167,000 at the end the “Derby Days” competition.

“We blew last year’s record out of the water,” said Sagar Shah, “Derby Days” chairman at Sigma Chi.

Sigma Chi raised $95,000 last year, Shah said. At the start of the event, he said the fraternity hoped to break $100,000.

Sororities Phi Sigma Sigma and Sigma Delta Tau were crowned the overall winners of the event, which consisted of a variety of contests that began last Sunday and ran until Saturday, said Shah, a Rutgers Business School senior. Of all the participating sororities, they raised the most funds.

Gamma Phi Beta won the lip-syncing contest that closed off the week, he said.

Sigma Chi donates the money they raise to Children’s Miracle Network, an organization that provides funding for children’s hospitals, as well as organizations the participating sororities support, said Courtney Kugel, a member of Sigma Delta Tau.

The University’s seven National Panhellenic Conference sororities competed against each other throughout several events, such as a penny-collecting contest known as “penny wars” and the lip-synching contest, said Sam Murray, member of Phi Sigma Sigma.

“Everyone practices fanatically for months and months,” said Murray, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

Each sorority elected their own “diva” and paired them with a “captain” from Sigma Chi, Murray said. The pairs were then given the task of choreographing their respective dance team of about 40 individuals.

“In the beginning of the semester we do something called the ‘derby draft,’” Shah said. “We have a roster of all the brothers and each diva picks a captain. It’s like fantasy football.”

The dance teams, composed of members from Sigma Chi and their respective sorority, often practiced rigorously for the events, said Bianca Fazzina, member and diva of Phi Sigma Sigma.

“At Phi Sigma Sigma, we practiced four nights a week for two or three hours,” said Fazzina, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “It’s a lot of hard work.”

The dance routines paired classic movies with contemporary music selections, said Kugel, a diva for Sigma Delta Tau.

“We did ‘Wizard of Oz,’” said Kugel, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “We picked songs like ‘Heartless’ for the Tin Man and ‘Ease on Down the Road,’ for the Yellow Brick Road.”

Other themes included “Toy Land,” “Men In Black” and “Toy Story,” she said.

Kugel said it was difficult to practice with her team throughout the semester.

“It’s tough because often you don’t have a big space,” she said. “But I can honestly say that all the sororities stepped up their game last night.”

In addition to the amount of money raised, Shah said his favorite part of the lip-syncing contest was meeting one person who will benefit from their fundraising.

“We had a girl from the Children’s Miracle Network come in — one of the girls who is actually a beneficiary of all the money we raised,” he said.

Shah said his involvement was mainly behind the scenes and included responsibilities like hiring a sound crew and staging for the lip-syncing contest, as well as motivating the various organizations to raise as much money as possible.

A panel of judges reviewed two performances from each team, a duet from each diva and captain followed by each team’s performance.

“It was insane the amount of people that came out,” Fazzina said. “It was such a great atmosphere to be in.”

School of Arts and Sciences senior Mark Belenky said the amount of preparation that went into the contest was impressive.

“All seven sororities were incredible,” he said. “The coolest thing about it was that the other sororities were cheering for each other during their lip syncing performances. The spirit was off the hook.”


By Matthew Matilsky

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