Beyond the Hill

Fraternity runs relay to White House to raise money for Alzheimer’s research

Courtesy of Matthew Koenigsberg

About 60 members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Bucknell University raised $60,080 in a relay to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

A group of Bucknell University students have completed a 160-mile run for a cause.

On Oct. 11, about 60 members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Bucknell completed a relay run from the university’s Lewisburg, Pennsylvania campus to the lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. The relay raised $60,080 to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

The eleventh annual “Reagan Run,” which kicked off Oct. 8, is a huge philanthropic event for TKE every year, said Matthew Koenigsberg, co-chairman of the relay and member of the fraternity. TKE brothers have been campaigning since August to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, a nonprofit chosen to honor President Ronald Reagan, a TKE brother and Bucknell alumnus, who died from Alzheimer’s in 2004.

“This is a special event for us and we really enjoy it,” Koenigsberg said. “We raise a lot of money doing it.”

In order to make the 160-mile journey, the more than 60 participating brothers were split up into about 18 teams of four. Team members were then placed in cars and assigned a specific 10-mile route, where they were to drive and wait until a runner from the team before them arrived to pass off the relay baton, which in this case was a purple horseshoe.

Koenigsberg said the unconventional choice was a way to both inspire good luck and further honor their cause, since purple is the representative color of Alzheimer’s.

In order to successfully execute a relay of this magnitude, Koenigsberg said he spent lots of time calculating the course of each leg and then meticulously splitting the participating TKE brothers up into cars of four so there would be some variety among the runners. This way, the brothers get to spend time with other members of the fraternity they don’t know as well, he added.

The relay in its entirety took four days to complete due to safety restrictions that prohibited the brothers from running after 6 p.m. So when Koenigsberg and his co-chair finally made it to the White House and greeted the members of their fraternity that had already finished, he said the euphoria was electric.

“It was awesome,” Koenigsberg said. “It’s a really nice feeling to have closure to the event. We start and we have zero dollars raised in August, and then September and October come in and we have $50-60,000. It’s incredible to bring it all together.”

Two representatives from the Alzheimer’s Association met the fraternity at the White House upon the relay’s completion. Both were incredibly grateful, Koenigsberg said.

“The only way we’re going to get closer to a cure is through research. And activities like what TKE at Bucknell did, raising money and awareness, help to fuel that research,” said Jared Paventi, chief communications officer for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Koenigsberg said the representatives went around to every single guy that ran and thanked him afterwards.

For the members of the TKE brotherhood, that appreciation was worth giving up their fall break to participate in the relay and fight some of the negative stereotypes surrounding Greek life.

Said Koenigsberg: “I think fraternities get a lot of bad press; A lot of people say it’s just a drinking club. But this one event shows this is not a drinking club; this is something we care about.”

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