Duffy Dufresne/Contributing Writer
This spring, Pi Kappa Phi introduced its first War of the Roses fundraiser. Bringing in $15,788.42 for the fraternity’s charity, Push America, the fundraiser was more successful than originally expected. “I really didn’t think it would be that successful,” said Christian Gutierrez, director of service for Pi Kappa Phi. “Our goal was probably like $3,000 and we ended up getting $15,000. It was huge. I really didn’t expect it at all.”
The idea for WOTR came from Gabriel Villanueva, Pi Kappa Phi alumnus and leadership consultant for the fraternity’s national headquarters. Villanueva became aware of the way the other chapters raised money through WOTR and decided to involve FIU’s chapter of Pi Kappa Phi, Theta Delta. Villanueva, along with Gutierrez and Xochilth Jiron, 2012 Rose Queen, began planning the event in October 2012.
“[Our goal was] spreading awareness for the philanthropy,” Gutierrez said. “Push America helps those with disabilities, so we try our hardest in certain events to make sure people didn’t really take it as a competition, but more about helping a cause and realizing what we do for those that are disabled.”
It was a six-day event that included events such as SMASH the word, Paint for Push, Push to Snap, Push America Involvement Fair, a friendship visit with Best Buddies and the Miss Push America Pageant. The events operated on a point system — the sorority with the most points wins the trophy and is declared WOTR champions. SMASH the word, the first event of WOTR, featured a wooden plank covered in slanderous words that society uses to refer to the disabled.
Passersby were able to toss a ball at it in order to symbolize the demolition of stereotypical and hurtful terms directed at people who are disabled. Paint for Brush, held on day two of WOTR, allowed people to paint their handprints on the Push canvas. Day three allowed participants to take part in Push to Snap, which gave people the opportunity to take a photo and then create a frame for it out of popsicle sticks.
On day four of WOTR, the contestants of the Miss Push America Pageant held their own Push America Involvement Fair, in which they created their own fundraisers for the cause. Day five consisted of a friendship visit with Best Buddies. People were able to participate in Pi Kappa Phi’s regular visit and play games and eat lunch with members of Pi Kappa Phi and Best Buddies.
Finally, the Miss Push America Pageant was held on day six and the winner of WOTR was announced along with the pageant winner – Juliana Vanegas from Phi Sigma Sigma. The winner of WOTR, the Theta Xi chapter of Alpha Xi Delta, was determined by a point system based off how much money was raised by each sorority at the respective events. Ten percent of their total was given to their charity Autism Speaks, which focuses on raising funding for autism research and raising awareness on autism and how it affects people.
“It was incredible because there was a lot of engagement,” Gutierrez said. “We usually don’t have that many attending, but this year there was probably 50 or 60 people, and we had not only sorority women that were attending, but men from different fraternities as well.”