Members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at the University of South Dakota are taking a stand against blood cancer by hosting the fifth annual Taylor Trudeau Cycle for Life event at the Wellness Center Feb. 18.
Cycle for Life is held at more than 130 campuses across North America, according to the charity’s website. The event is dedicated to Taylor Trudeau, a PIKE member at the University of New Hampshire who lost his battle with leukemia in 2008.
Junior Jesus Meza, chair of USD’s Cycle for Life, said the event has raised $9,500 over the course of four years, and all proceeds go directly to the Taylor Trudeau Cycle for Life Foundation in Fort Myers, Fla. for cancer research.
“Our mission is, one, to raise awareness, and two, to raise the funds for leukemia, lymphoma and melanoma research,” Meza said.
Sophomore Robert McCauley, external PIKE vice president, said cycling machines at the Wellness Center will be used constantly from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday.
“There’s 17 exercise bikes that the university owns, and then there’s 30-minute time slots for each bike,” McCauley said. “We’ll have people come in and out and doing a 30-minute session of cycling.”
McCauley said all four of USD’s sororities have sponsored at least one machine — a donation of $100 per bike.
“They can have (someone) from their chapter come to the Wellness Center and cycle,” McCauley said.
Meza said he wants students to “remember others, to be healthy and to remember those, and fight for those who aren’t able to (stay healthy)… And most importantly, just have fun with cycling.”
Meza said he hopes the event will help students realize fraternities do good through philanthropy.
“I hope that people can understand that there’s much more to fraternities than the stereotypes and that they do good things,” Meza said.
Meza said there are other things PIKE does to benefit the local community.
“PIKE also signed a $25,000 grant for the Sioux Falls Miracle Children’s (Hospital),” Meza said.
McCauley said because cancer is so widespread, the fundraiser will affect those living in Vermillion, even if the money will not be spent locally.
“Everybody is affected by cancer in some way, I would assume, because it seems like such a common thing, which is really sad,” McCauley said. “It’s just raising awareness and then raising those funds to help cure those cancers, and hopefully, one day, they won’t exist.”
McCauley said the event not only helps a cause but also encourages students to strive for fitness.
“Everybody should try to live a healthy, active lifestyle,” McCauley said. “Even though it’s 30 minutes on a Wednesday in February, it’s still something that could be the turning point of physical fitness for some people.”
Junior Nathan Christensen, the president of PIKE, said he hopes the event will expand in the future and make the charity even more successful.
“I can see it expanding where we can potentially get more bikes, because that’s the problem we’ve kind of come in touch with,” Christensen said. “We only have one cycling room in the Wellness Center, but one way we can expand it is rent a basketball court and have someone bring more bikes to this facility.”
The community is encouraged to register online or at the Cycling for Life table in the Muenster University Center. Those wanting to help can also donate directly to the organization.
(Photo: Junior Isaac Bouwman talks with Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity members Jordan Cushman, back, Chris Nemec, middle, and Jesus Meza, front, about the upcoming Cycle for Life event Feb. 18 in the Wellness Center. Malachi Petersen / The Volante)