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Phi Delta Theta members run to Omaha raise money for ALS Association

By Maren Westra, Daily Nebraskan

834 days ago   Article ID# 1553438
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ALS Association

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA (Daily Nebraskan) - One day after severe storms reigned in the Midwest, Phi Delta Theta fraternity members ran from Lincoln to Omaha in support of a good cause.

On April 15, 40 University of Nebraska-Lincoln students and 20 Creighton University students ran in teams to raise money for the ALS Association.

According to Phi Delt philanthropy chair Josh Van Ornam, a sophomore financial advising major, the event raised almost $17,000.

Runners had months to train and find sponsors to pledge donations for the run. The Creighton chapter raised a total of $7,600 and the UNL chapter raised $9,300. And Van Ornam said fundraising won’t stop there.

The total distance from the Phi Delt house at UNL to the finish line, TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, was about 60 miles. Each member of the 10-person teams ran six miles, which could be split up however they liked.

According to Keith Wysocki, Phi Delt alumni adviser, half of all money raised by Phi Delt for charity is donated to ALSA. The other half goes to the Phi Delta Theta Foundation, which funds scholarships and educational programs for fraternity members.

On May 11, 2007, Richard J. Propst, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate, went to the doctor to find the cause of his slurred speech and loss of body control. He walked into the office using a cane.

The diagnosis wasn’t good: Propst had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that makes nerve cells die. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it causes muscle weakness and paralysis. Just one month after his appointment, Propst was using a wheelchair. Two months after that, on Aug. 12, he died.

There was also something else Propst had in common with Lou Gehrig: They were both alums of Phi Delt.

Many of the event’s runners had a personal goal of becoming an Iron Phi.

Iron Phi is a program started by Steve Good, who works for Phi Delt headquarters, created Iron Phi to strengthen Phi Delt’s relationship with ALSA. Launched in February 2010, it rewards Phi Delt members or alumni who raise at least $1,000 for the fraternity’s philanthropy.

And the money has to be raised through the completion of some sort of athletic endeavor.

Good said he was inspired to create the program after running a marathon in 2009 and realizing how many of his fellow runners were using their efforts to raise money for charity. He said he was struck with the idea that he could add purpose to the finish line by instituting a similar method of philanthropy within the fraternity, so he worked with the Phi Delta Theta General Council, ALSA and his colleagues to make it happen.

Wysocki said this is the first multi-chapter Iron Phi event to take place.

“I love the collaborative approach,” Good said. “The guys of both UNL and Creighton are great.”

Reid Korbelik, a junior construction management major, became an Iron Phi last year during the Papillion half marathon. Even though he’d already accomplished what many of Sunday’s runners set out to do, he was just as interested in being a part of a new philanthropic event.

“It’s really motivating,” he said. “Everybody’s really thankful for everything you do.”

According to Good, the Iron Phi program has already raised $280,000 since it began.

Propst’s son, Rich Propst, is also a UNL Phi Delt alumnus. Although not an Iron Phi, he completed the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii in 2008 in his father’s memory. He said that reaching such an important accomplishment to honor his father was bittersweet.

He also said that seeing young men do so much to raise money for a disease that often doesn’t directly affect them is a “wonderful thing.”

Freshman Jeffrey Bantam, an actuarial sciences major, raised exactly $1,000 from sponsors, making him eligible for Iron Phi. However, he said the event is about more.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “It’s a new experience. I’ve never run this much before ... I would definitely support the cause for all it’s worth.”

Copyright 2014 Daily Nebraskan   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 834 days ago   Article ID# 1553438

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