Derby Days

Sigma Chi’s Derby Days is the international fraternity’s exclusive philanthropic event every chapter plans. Typically lasting anywhere from two days to a week-long of philanthropic events engaging the different sororities and campus to involve in activities that all raise money for Sigma Chi’s philanthropy partner the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

This year, the Lambda chapter brought back Derby Days for the first time in five years with aims to bring back the annual tradition. Derby Days kicked off with a dodgeball tournament with sixteen fraternities and sororities participating, the following day a carwash was held at the chapter house, and on the last day a Sigma Chi Mom’s Weekend auction. Over the entire week, the Lambda Chapter raised a total of $10,547 for the Huntsman Cancer Institute, with $2,500 coming from the tournament and carwash, and $8,047 coming from the auction.

Overall, the return of Lambda Chapter’s Derby Days was an outstanding success for involvement from the brothers of the chapter as well as the community. We hope to continue the tradition and make it more successful each year.

History

The tradition of Sigma Chi’s Derby Days began in the spring of 1933 at the Alpha Beta chapter at the University of California-Berkeley, under the name “Channingway Derby.” Located on Channing Way, the Sigma Chis sponsored an event composed of a series of humorous skits.

In the spring of 1935, after receiving reports of the Channingway Derby, Beta Sigma chapter members at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville made plans for a similar event. But instead of presenting skits, the event was planned around an all-day track and field competition between the pledge classes of the nine sororities at Tennessee. More than 1,000 people were in attendance on the big day, Nov. 1, 1935, to witness the first Derby involving campus sororities.

Coincidentally, on that day four Sigs from the Delta chapter at the University of Georgia were visiting Knoxville and witnessed the festivities. The brothers took the idea back to their campus and named their production “Sigma Chi Derby,” which seems to have stuck.

During the 1960s, the derby began to take on the philanthropic approach for which it is now known on many campuses. After the Cleo Wallace Center became Sigma Chi’s Fraternity-wide service project in 1967, many chapters began using the derby as a fundraising event for the center. Although some amount of charitable work had been done through Derby and similar events prior to that time, the Wallace Center project gave a much-needed boost to the concept of doing something for a group in need outside of campus. At the 1992 Leadership Training Workshop, the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) was introduced as Sigma Chi’s suggested beneficiary of proceeds from chapter community service projects. The CMN, an alliance of 170 hospitals and health care facilities across the North America, generates funds for the children its associated hospitals serve. Many of the Fraternity’s undergraduate chapters and many alumni chapters are located in the same city or within an hour’s drive of one or more network hospitals. Huntsman Cancer Foundation (HCF) has been the preferred philanthropic partner of Sigma Chi since December 2012. HCF was founded by Significant Sig and Order of Constantine Sig Jon Huntsman Sr., PENNSYLVANIA 1959, in 1993.

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