Pi Kappa Phi Philanthropy: Push America
Pi Kappa Phi Philanthropy Week Serves
by Meagan Cole
Pi Kappa Phi is one of the social Greek fraternities affiliated with Roanoke College that strive for excellence through leadership and community service. In particular, these brothers are strong advocates for Push America, their national, philanthropic, non-profit organization that gives back to those with disabilities. Together, they value ability, teamwork, empathy, and integrity, and Pi Kappa Phi showed their support via Philanthropy Week.
Tim Cyswinski is a Junior Political Science major and Foreign Politics minor from Warrenton, Virginia, and he’s the young man in charge of the week. “The purpose of this week can be categorized into two reasons: raising funds for Push America and raising empathy for the everyday challenges people with disabilities face. Push America was created by Pi Kappa Phi and is now owned and operated by our fraternity at the national level. Its mission is to support people with disabilities in various ways such as building handicap accessible structures (like playgrounds) and creating educational programs for those with disabilities. It really sets our fraternity apart from other organizations because of its heavy influence on serving others and breaking down stereotypes of those who are disabled. Our hope is that this week can positively reflect our chapter’s commitment to uphold the values of Push America.”
The brothers set out annually to raise awareness by asking for other organizations to get involved in various events. However, the entire school was invited to participate this year, which at least doubled their numbers. Tim elaborates, “One of the main reasons we opened up our week to the school was to ensure we expanded these values to a wider base.” Joshua Wolinksi, the current President of Pi Kappa Phi’s Xi chapter as well as a Senior Philosophy major from Kent, Connecticut, agrees, “Any amount of awareness and funds we can give back to Push America will directly help other, less fortunate individuals. [Therefore,] we decided to open our week to the whole Roanoke College community.”
Teams of students competed in promotions and games including reverse penny wars, a photo scavenger hunt, raffle ticket sales, T-shirt sales, an obstacle course, volleyball tournament, and a LipSync. In doing so, funds were raised for the charity and thousands of dollars from the college went back to the campus community in the form of prizes ranging from cash to electronics. Tim says, “I’m pretty sure the Lip Sync is everyone’s favorite part of any philanthropy week. It’s always fun to watch people act ridiculous.”
Joshua, on the other hand, is torn picking his favorite moment of Philanthropy Week, “I have competed in three lip syncs as a brother, and I love seeing the teams go up on stage, having an incredibly fun time while also raising awareness for Push America during their dances. But, the empathy volleyball tournament on Tuesday was so much fun. At first, we thought the teams were going to hate having to play volleyball with various disabilities, but they ended up having more fun playing one-armed or sitting down in a wheelchair than they did playing normally. I love both events, because it’s awesome to see others having fun while also raising awareness and empathy for those who are developmentally challenged.”
John Lilley, a Sophomore from Virginia, is conducting roadblocks in addition to the events. “Give a Push for Push and Push Ups for Push are the two roadblocks I’m doing, but we’ve also did Pie a Pi Kapp last weekend and Pedals for Push on Wednesday. For that one, we rode an exercise bike all day long [in shifts], but it’s a great time.” Spencer Munro, a Psychology major also from Virginia, agrees, “I’m very impressed with how awesome Roanoke College has been this week. It’s awesome seeing people from all affiliations supporting a common cause.”
Joshua ends by saying, “The teams have had so much fun, and we are definitely achieving our goal to raise more awareness for Push America. Hopefully, by the end of week, we will also raise more money than we ever have. Tim has done an incredible job at organizing everything and I cannot thank him enough for committing to the changes in our week.” And, the ever modest planner, Tim, is equally thrilled, “When I see all the brothers who volunteered, especially in Pedals for Push, biking for one or two intensely exhausting hours, I’m reminded again why I am so proud to be part of the Pi Kappa Phi brotherhood here on campus.”
While the element of fun is present, Pi Kappa Phi never forgot the purpose behind what they were doing. The facts remain that “Push America has raised over $15 million to benefit people with disabilities and organizations dedicated to their service. [And,] every year, outside of the organization’s events, Push America trains over 200 leaders of Pi Kappa Phi on disability awareness issues as well as how they can spread the message of acceptance and understanding in their local communities. These leaders help to relay their training to the other 7,000 active undergraduates of Pi Kappa Phi.”
The Push America mission states, “Building leaders of tomorrow by serving people with disabilities today.” That philosophy mimics the Roanoke College mission: “Roanoke College develops students as whole persons and prepares them for responsible lives of learning, service, and leadership by promoting their intellectual, ethical, spiritual and personal growth.” As such, members of Pi Kappa Phi have lived up to the standards of both missions during the course of the week, shaping themselves as well as others, in the pursuit to serve.