By Madeleine Thompson
Without stepping foot in Gambier, Arnold Schwarzenegger figured prominently at this years Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) benefit at the Village Inn (VI). A poster signed by Schwarzenegger served as first prize for the trivia competition held at the beginning of the evening, which raised money for ALS by charging $15 per trivia team. Now in its third year, the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE)-hosted benefit raises money to help fight the disease and raise awareness about its effects, which can be expensive to treat.
It is becoming a Kenyon tradition, said Professor of Political Science Pamela Jensen, who donated the poster.
[The DKEs] have called attention to something by invoking our reaction to beloved people in the community, but also have raised the profile of ALS.
The benefit honors Professor Emeritus of Drama Tom Turgeon, who is still battling ALS, and Elaine Gray, the stepmother of former DKE president Nate Gray 10, who died of the disease.
Associate Professor of Drama Andrew Reinert called Turgeon one of his favorite colleagues in an email. To my mind, Tom embodies all the best qualities of Kenyon: hes passionate about learning, hes kind, hes joyous, and hes modest, he said. The DKEs are particularly connected to this cause not only because of Grays stepmother and because Turgeon taught at Kenyon, but also because Turgeons son, Chuck Turgeon 93, was a DKE at Kenyon as well.
The DKEs host the event to spread awareness in addition to raising money. Its really important to remind [students] that were not just Kenyon students, were citizens of a larger and more important cause, said DKE community service chair Abe Nelson 14.
With the help of the Epsilon Delta Mu (EDM) sorority, which has handled publicity and advertising each year, Nelson estimated that they raised about $500 in addition to the $2,095.28 collected at the event, thanks to donations made directly to the ALS foundation.
Though the first ALS benefit brought in almost twice the amount raised this year, Nelson said the event was more successful, not least because awareness increases every year. I just dont think we have a person whos as remarkable as Nate Gray, Nelson said. I was worried at first because I didnt see a way that we could feasibly make as much money as we did last year, but I had a great conversation with Nate where he said, I dont care how much money you make. A ton of people who wouldnt usually come to something like this are here now.
The sisters of EDM played a major role in getting the word out about the event. EDMs placed signs displaying facts about ALS along Middle Path and distributed lollipops with additional facts. I think we could do more to advertise earlier, said EDM community service chair Elise Shattuck 14. But I think [the signs and lollipops] work really well.
The size of the crowd that descended on the VI also posed some difficulty. Still, both Nelson and DKE Cody Shankman 12 were excited to see so many attendees. I would love to see more donations from students, Shankman said. I think many Kenyon students are a little hesitant to give five dollars at the door because were not used to that, but I think a lot of students here can manage to do it and I think its a good cause.
VI owner Jerry Kelly has been happy to offer up his establishment for the cause. Id really like to see it grow, Kerry said. Maybe next year we could do fundraiser trivia on a Wednesday night and then a VI night at the end of the week with music or some other mix of events.
Though this combination of trivia and music has been successful so far, Kerry looks forward to finding the perfect blend for attracting more supporters. We really appreciate anything we can do with [the] student community as a whole, particularly if its for a good cause, Kerry said.
Professor of Humanities Timothy Shutt has contributed to the benefit by serving as trivia host for the past two years and creating his own challenging questions on topics ranging from cephalopods to constellations. Its something I can do, Shutt said. [Turgeon] and I were colleagues together for more than 20 years, and I like and respect him still.
Well definitely do the benefit with the VI next year, and hopefully we can, Nelson said. With the VIs participation and new ideas to increase community involvement not only from students but also from local businesses, Nelson and Kelly hope for even more success in years to come. [Nate Gray] was at the event this year and he said he was really happy, Nelson said. Next year I hope we can make it even bigger.
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