When it comes to raising funds for the Alzheimer's Association, the brothers of Bucknell's Beta Mu chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon don't just pound the pavement figuratively. Each fall, they lace up their running shoes and race 182 miles, relay-style, from campus to Washington, D.C., in honor of a beloved member of the TKE Beta Mu community.
"We began the Reagan Run in 2004 when our head chef and inducted fraternal brother, George Kitchens, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease," said Eddie Piotroski '18, accounting & financial management, who organized this year's run with co-chair Ian Vogel '19, neuroscience. "It was our way of saying thank you to George for his years of service."
Piotroski added that this fall, the run — named for former president and TKE brother Ronald Reagan, who died from Alzheimer's-related complications — was particularly poignant, as Kitchens passed away in July.
"We wanted to make this year's run the best possible," Piotroski said, explaining that the fraternity raised an event-record $66,379 by teaming up with Chipotle Mexican Grill for a fundraiser; selling discount cards good at participating Lewisburg businesses; and through direct donations, which are still being accepted.
Enlisting the local community's support through the discount-card program helped to establish a bond between the fraternity and Lewisburg business owners, Piotroski added. "We developed a great relationship with local businesses this year," he said. "I think they were really happy to be involved."
Matt Ferguson, director of fraternity & sorority affairs, said the Reagan Run, which took place Wednesday, Oct. 4 to Sunday, Oct. 8, is an example of "fraternity done right."
"We're proud of the collective effort TKE Beta Mu consistently puts forward to make the run an enormous success," Ferguson said. "The event is organized and led solely by members, who raise funds, train, set the course, schedule each leg and arrange for overnight accommodations along the way. It's a Herculean effort."
Over the past 13 years, that effort has paid off, resulting in the collection of more than $461,000 for the Alzheimer's Association.
Piotroski noted that the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease makes it easy to rally support for research to find a cure. "Almost everyone is affected by Alzheimer's in some way," he said, adding that Kitchens' daughter, Jody, now runs the TKE Beta Mu kitchen. "Jody and George are part of our family. It's great to be able to honor them."