Greek chapters donate $65,000 to cancer research foundation

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UT’s Alpha Epsilon Phi and Sigma Chi chapters presented two checks totaling $65,316 to The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation on Wednesday.

The foundation raises money to provide financial and emotional support for the families of children with cancer and helps fund childhood cancer research.

Alpha Epsilon Phi raised approximately $55,000 for the foundation, while Sigma Chi raised $10,000. Both held events and fundraisers in the fall, such as Sigma Chi’s Fight Night.

After receiving the two checks, Joe McDonough, father of Andrew McDonough, said he wished he weren’t there but with his son instead.

“Seven years ago, my son was a healthy freshman in high school,” Joe McDonough said. “He helped his team win a Pennsylvania state championship in soccer on a Saturday, and 48 hours later he was diagnosed with leukemia.”

Andrew McDonough battled the disease for 167 days until he died July 14, 2007, in his sister’s arms. 

“The only thing I ever wanted to be was a dad,” Joe McDonough said. “I will always tell you I have two children, but can only hug one.”

In the past two years, the foundation has raised $1.5 million in research grants and family assistance for childhood cancer. According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, cancer is the leading cause of disease-related deaths in children. Every year, 13,400 children younger than 19 are diagnosed with cancer.

“You guys are the B+ Foundation,” McDonough said to the two chapters. “You are enabling us to touch so many lives. … All cancer is bad, but we have got to do more for our kids.”

Bob Helen, a cancer survivor and father of a child with cancer, said the foundation helped fund his 14-year-old daughter’s cancer treatment.

“Your money that you raised isn’t going to me, or to Joe,” Helen said. “It’s going to that 14-year-old girl out there that, hopefully, because of your money, won’t have to go through this hell on Earth that we had to go through. Anybody that does anything for children’s cancer is her hero. You all are all our heroes.”

Matt Johnson, finance senior and president of Sigma Chi, said his fraternity holds charity events every semester and is always open to donating to different causes.

“It’s something that we really take to heart,” Johnson said. “We kind of, as a fraternity, hold it as our calling card.”

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who has worked closely with the foundation, also spoke at the event. He passed the Creating Hope Act in 2012, which provides incentives to the pharmaceutical industry to develop pediatric cancer treatments that are otherwise cost-prohibitive.

“We do so many things in Washington, as you know, that really make no difference at all,” McCaul said. “But this is one of those things where you can truly make a difference in the lives of others.”