1st Annual Boxcar Derby a Winner

Money and Awareness Raised to Fight ALS

[Posted July 1, 2009] On the last Saturday in March, Michigan Alpha and Ann Arbor Active Against ALS (A2A3), a local non-profit organization, co-hosted the first annual Boxcar Derby on South University. The event, which was open to the community and witnessed by a crowd of more than 100 people, raised money and awareness for promising research to combat Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS).


The race course began near where South University meets Oxford and ended about one block from the chapter house. Racers were given a push start and then gravity propelled them down the hill on South University, which was closed to traffic during the event, to the finish line.

A total of 16 teams participated including many children of parents involved in A2A3. The race was run with a tournament-style single elimination format. Prizes were awarded for the overall race winner as well as for other categories such as creative design.

A2A3 President Suzanne Ross said, "It was a pleasure to partner with Phi Delta Theta in hosting the Derbyposter Derby. The event was entertaining for children and raised much needed resources for research to cure this terrible disease. We were impressed by the ingenuity and commitment of the Phi Delt men to envision the Derby and make it a big success."

After the race, a picnic BBQ was held on the side lawn of the fraternity during which Kevin Szawala '07 gave a motivational speech and presentation about ALS in conjunction with U of M Public Policy Professor Bob Schoeni.

The Derby raised a total of more than $1,500, but fundraising was not the only goal of the event. The Derby generated publicity in the community and on campus about the need to cure ALS. The Ann Arbor Chronicle online newspaper published a very positive report about the Derby that is well worth reading (http://annarborchronicle.com/2009/03/28/box-cars-zoom-down-south-university/).

Patrick Moore '09 said, "The active chapter wanted to establish a new annual tradition for our philanthropy program to fight ALS. We came up with the concept of the Derby as being both fun for the brothers and Ann Arbor community.

"A2A3 is an outstanding group dedicated to bringing together the community to battle ALS, so we were extremely pleased that they partnered with us in this endeavor. A2A3's help was key in making the Derby a reality. We also thank the Alumni Association for their financial support and encouragement.

"We're hoping the Derby will grow in coming years. Additional alumni support and participation is certainly welcome."

The Derby marked the fourth year that Michigan Alpha raised funds to benefit efforts to defeat ALS. ALS claimed the life of brother Lou Gehrig (Columbia '25) and is a major philanthropic focus of Phi Delta Theta's national headquarters as well as local chapters across the nation.

All combined, Michigan Alpha's ALS philanthropy events have raised more than $35,000. For more information, view the Alumni Association's web site at www.pdtumich.com.

DERBY PICTURES (View Derby pictures by clicking on "Continue reading "Boxcar Derby")

The Derby drew a crowd of spectators for the 16 racers.

Boxcars racing down South University toward the finish line.

There were many close races in the spirited competition.

Most of the 16 racers were children of parents who support A2A3. The kids had a great time ruling South University for a day.

The "pirate ship" car won style points, but not the race.

Kevin Szawala '07 gave a motivational speech at the BBQ after the race.