WKU fraternity runs to Vanderbilt in fundraiser

Members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon run down Avenue of Champions on Friday Nov. 6 to kick off their run from Bowling Green to Nashville. A group of more than 20 men from the fraternity volunteered to participate in the run in an effort to raise money for children in need of bikes.

Alec Jessie

The Kentucky Beta chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity revived an old philanthropic tradition this weekend when more than 20 of its members ran approximately 70 miles to Nashville prior to WKU’s game against Vanderbilt.

SAE alum Richard Ziegler first started this tradition. The “Run so They Can Ride” relay began 49 years ago and was done until the early 2000’s, according to chapter adviser Randy Shockey. SAE alumni Dale Augenstein pitched the idea of working with the World Bicycle Foundation to the fraternity over the summer.

Through this event, SAE brought in over $15,000, but is still still taking donations. Augenstein is the owner of Steamer Seafood, and as the primary sponsor, Steamer has been instrumental in SAE meeting its financial goal.

Webb cited SAE alumni as a huge help to raising all the money.

“Alumni was huge,” Webb said. “They were the backbone of raising the money. We raised most of our money cold-calling alumni. We pitched it to them and a lot of times they didn’t answer, a lot of times they were skeptical and sometimes they were really generous.”

The proceeds will go to World Bicycle Foundation, and they will use the money to buy children in Africa bicycles. SAE raised enough money to purchase 110 bikes for these African children in need.

“It gave us an opportunity to demonstrate running over a long distance over a long period of time to give an idea of what it’s like everyday for these kids in a lot of underprivileged countries in Africa,” Webb said. “They have to walk two hours just to get to school.”

The total run took the members 9 hours and 37 minutes. SAE member Connor Roberts, who participated in the run, emphasized the team effort it took to complete the run.

“Everyone did their part,” Roberts said. “If people were able to run one mile, they ran one mile. If they were able to run five, six, seven, eight, they did that. We helped each other out and did all we could. Whenever we were in the last leg of the run, we all hopped out of the van and ran it together. The campus was empty when we got there, but we were all screaming, yelling, running through the streets having a great time.”

The members embraced the challenge of the run, and Sheldon Goins talked about the challenge of becoming the chair of this project.

“We had to start from scratch because it hadn’t been done in 49 years,” Goins said. “We really just had to wing it. It was a big learning curve, but we definitely got a lot out of this experience.”

The SAE members emphasized this event was not for their own chapter’s gain. With all of the recent negative headlines surrounding Greek life, Webb wants to use this run to show the positive impact Greek life can have on a college campus or a community.

“The Greek community gets a lot of bad rep now and a lot of time in the media you see a lot of terrible things going on,” Webb said. “If we start to bring back this culture of selfless acts towards philanthropy, then we can really make a culture change in the Greek community.”

“We’ll be able to set a timeline in place for whoever the philanthropy chair is or whoever runs this event next year. I think following something like that is going to make this event a lot more successful.”

Roberts saw planning ahead as key to the improvement of the run.

“I think in the future, if we plan ahead, we can create more awareness than we had for the event this year.”

SAE has not reached out to any schools for next years’ event, but cited Eastern Kentucky University as a possibility.

A previous version of this story said that the event hadn’t happened in 49 years. SAE participated in the event until the early 2000’s, and it began 49 years ago. 

Reporter Alec Jessie can be reached on Twitter @Alec_Jessie, by phone (502) 648-7190 or email [email protected].