Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity raises record amount during Rock-A-Thon

The success of MU’s chapter of Rock-A-Thon created tension with the national chapter

Alpha Epsilon Pi exceeded its past Rock-A-Thon record from 2013 by $9,000. Rock-A-Thon, a biennial fundraiser, ran from April 23 to 25 and raised $132,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Rock-A-Thon co-chairmen Mason Bikshorn and Joshua Aroesty organized the event and said they are excited about the record, but any amount would have been an accomplishment.

“Everybody looks at the final number, but what it comes down to is that $132,000 is an aggregate of 50-cent donations, $1 donations or $5 donations,” Aroesty said. “If you can raise even $10,000 for the American Cancer Society, or any other philanthropic organization, you are doing an incredible thing.”

Although other AEPi chapters in America do some form of Rock-A-Thon, none have been as successful as MU’s chapter. The proceeds from the Rock-A-Thons go to different philanthropies for each chapter, and this created tension between MU AEPi and their national organization.

According to Bikshorn, national AEPi has tried to obtain some of MU’s proceeds for their own philanthropy instead of giving it to the American Cancer Society.

“They have come to us personally and said, ‘Give us Rock-A-Thon’ or ‘Give us five or ten percent of Rock-A-Thon to our national philanthropy,’” Bikshorn said. “The house doesn’t want to do it. We’ve given back to our community and the national philanthropy wouldn’t resonate to the people we not only accept donations from but give back to.”

Bikshorn said national AEPi recognizes them but does not give them credit for their success.

“We are the Rock-A-Thon,” Bikshorn said. “We set the record two years ago with $123,000, but we did not win ‘Philanthropic Effort of the Year’ at our national convention.”

This opposition has created some tension. However, Aroesty said this division brings the MU AEPi brotherhood together.

“(The national AEPi) would prefer that we donate to their organization,” Aroesty said. “It’s not that they’re doing bad things, because they’re doing great things, but this is something we have a lot of pride in.”

AEPi began Rock-A-Thon at MU in 1969 and has continued the tradition every other year since then. For 63 hours an elected AEPi senior sits in a rocking chair as the rest of the fraternity collects money all over Missouri.

Rock-A-Thon’s proceeds go towards the American Cancer Society, which distributes the money as needed. Each Rock-A-Thon, AEPi also highlights a certain form of cancer. This year, they chose melanoma.

Jessica Ellison, senior marketing manager for the Jefferson City American Cancer Society office, has been the liaison between the American Cancer Society and AEPi for the past two Rock-A-Thons.

“AEPi does an excellent job of selecting leaders for their event, and the students do much of the work on their own,” Ellison said. “We talked regularly about the progress of the event, ideas they had for growth, and I stepped in when they needed help with processing of donations. Ultimately the students are responsible for the remarkable success of Rock-A-Thon.”

Ellison said she was grateful for the chance to meet and work with the men of AEPi.

“I’m excited for them,” Ellison said. “I know how hard they worked and how much it meant to them, not only because they wanted to break the record, but because they really want to make an impact in the fight against cancer.”

Bikshorn said that though he, Aroesty and the rest of AEPi might like to take credit for their accomplishment with Rock-A-Thon, it was really not about them.

“Our success is a reflection of not just our hard work, but of the community itself,” Bikshorn said. “At the end of the day if people aren’t willing to be generous and donate the way that they do, this number would be impossible.”

Although Bikshorn and Aroesty will not be in charge of the next Rock-A-Thon, they plan to stay involved and give to the American Cancer Society. They said they believe Rock-A-Thon will continue to be successful because of the community it brings together.

“Rock-A-Thon is really an idea, and all it takes is people to get behind that idea, push it and make it a huge thing,” Aroesty said. “Every bit helps, and everybody can make an impact.”

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