Rock-A-Thon 2013 for cancer research breaks philanthropy record

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | 2:40 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Members of MU's Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity raised more than $123,000 for the American Cancer Society. The total shattered the fraternity's record of $82,000 in 2011. 

Despite drizzle and cloudy skies, fraternity members stood on street corners in downtown Columbia for about 50 hours total, from Thursday to Saturday.

MU's chapter of the fraternity is known to hold the largest single-chapter philanthropic event in the nation, according the chapter's website.

Rock-A-Thon started in 1969 when one fraternity member was chosen as the “Rocker” to sit in a rocking chair for 63 hours straight at the corner of Ninth Street and Broadway. The rest of the fraternity members stood on street corners collecting donations.

The event became a tradition and is held every two years.

Brendan Lyss was elected to sit on the stage this year. His brother and father are both cancer survivors.


“I was always interested in it since freshman year," Lyss said. "Because my family members have had cancer, I feel this event very close to my home.”

Alex Silverman, the event's public relations chair, attributed this year's success to the fraternity's preparation and the fact that members heavily promoted the fundraiser on Facebook and Twitter. Silverman also works as a sports reporter at the Columbia Missourian.

Another boost to this year's efforts was the new Rock-A-Thon golf outing, Silverman said. Also, the fraternity had more help than previous years.


“We have a bigger house and more men than two years ago,” Silverman said.


But, the fundraising went beyond the streets of Columbia, according the the website. People from across the state donated money online and showed their appreciation for Rock-A-Thon through Facebook and Twitter.


“We sent few guys to St. Louis and Kansas City for canning in front of grocery stores,” Silverman said. “Many of our members are from those areas.”


At 9 p.m. Saturday, a crowd gathered to watch Lyss stand up from the rocking chair, which concluded the event.


“The rainy weather wasn't a big deal to me,” Lyss said. “Sitting in the chair for 63 hours is nothing compared to people suffering from cancer.”


Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.

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