Baylor Tri Delta stands out nationally, sees impact at St. Jude

The Baylor chapter of Tri Delta visited its philanthropy, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, over fall break. A group of Tri Deltas tour the hospital and view the St. Jude’s “Alphabet Wall,” which patients at the hospital make. Photo credit: Chandler Oestereich

By Brooke Bentley | Reporter

While Greek life is often portrayed as a mere social club, each group has a philanthropy upon which it can make an impressive impact.

Tri Delta’s national philanthropy, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, researches and treats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Unlike most hospitals, St. Jude never charges the patient’s family for the child’s treatment or accommodations surrounding it.

According to its St. Jude representative, Baylor’s chapter of Delta Delta Delta recently moved up to the No. 5 fundraising chapter of Tri Delta in the U.S. and to the No. 1 fundraising Tri Delta chapter in Texas. Having raised over $184,000 in just the past year, this group of women has begun to impact the lives of children and their families across the nation.

Giving up their fall break for a nine-hour bus ride, 48 members of Baylor Tri Delta traveled to Memphis, Tenn., where they toured St. Jude and were able to see the impact of their fundraising.

As they passed through halls filled with pictures of St. Jude patients with fellow Tri Deltas from across the nation, the women said the experience was beyond anything they could have ever imagined. One group was stopped and thanked by a woman whose granddaughter was being sent home to spend her final moments with her family due to an inoperable brain tumor.

“A woman named Beth came up to us and thanked us for helping fund Tri Delta Place,” San Antonio sophomore Paige Hardy said. “She told us how her granddaughter has been losing a battle with brain cancer and that being able to stay for free so close was a huge blessing. All of us were in tears.”

Due to their recent fundraising accomplishments, the women received a tour of Tri Delta Place, St. Jude’s short-term stay facility for patients and their families within walking distance from the hospital, as well as a trip to the hospital’s Delta Delta Delta patient care floor in the main building.

Hoover, Ala., junior Anna Beth Mann was also with Hardy’s group when the woman approached them in Tri Delta Place. She said that hearing the woman’s story and meeting her granddaughter completely changed her perspective on why they raise money for St. Jude.

“While it is an honor to be recognized as a donor for this nonprofit organization, the greater honor is found in being able to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth,” Mann said. “We serve St. Jude so that others may find comfort. We serve St. Jude so that others may find healing, and we serve St. Jude so that the Lord may be glorified and His presence known.”

While some girls go through sorority recruitment without considering philanthropy as criteria, many of Baylor’s Tri Delta members chose their chapter because of its work with St. Jude.

Boerne sophomore Meredith Steward said her high school best friend’s battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, spanning from seventh grade to a relapse her freshman year at Baylor, highly influenced her decision to join Tri Delta.

“I went into rush week with all these thoughts running through my head, knowing that the statistics of survival rate for relapsed A.L.L. was much, much lower,” Steward said. “I was already interested in Tri Delt, but I was still on the fence, so when I found out during rush week that Tri Delt’s philanthropy was St. Jude, I got this amazing sense of purpose and feeling of belonging in the chapter room.”

For some members of the chapter such as McKinney senior Amanda Pace, the trip is too special to only experience once as this weekend marked her second visit. On this trip, she saw a patient in a wheelchair leaving a “No Mo Chemo” party with her family, which the hospital throws when a patient completes their chemotherapy treatments, and reflected on how Baylor Tri Delta incorporated this into its philanthropy day theme this past spring during recruitment week.

“We crossed paths with a young girl and her family holding balloons that said “No Mo Chemo!” just like how we threw a “No Mo Chemo” party during recruitment week to celebrate the excitement that the children experience when they finally finish their chemo treatments,” Pace said. “We cheered for her, and it was amazing seeing the unexplainable happiness of the girl and her family as they waved at us, seeing that we were wearing Tri Delt shirts.”

While in Memphis, the chapter also had the opportunity to visit with St. Jude patient Cole Harrison, who withdrew from his freshman year at Baylor in September after being diagnosed with lymphoma.

“The Harrisons have said that the support of Baylor and of Tri Delta members have raised Cole’s spirits unlike anything they have thought possible,” said Dr. David Henry, Baylor Law School professor and Baylor Tri Delta faculty adviser. “More than ever before, I remain so proud to serve as an adviser to such an inspiring group of young people as those of Baylor’s Delta Delta Delta.”

After giving Harrison a basket of Baylor gear, the girls taught him how to do their “Delta move” while he taught them how to do “the flounder,” a dance move he claimed he brought to Baylor. Over the course of the trip, Harrison bonded with the girls over a BBQ dinner at Memphis’ famous Rendezvous, swing dancing with Baylor Tri Delta’s philanthropy chair, who organized the trip, as well as going on horse and carriage rides around the city.

“He literally lightened up the room when he walked in, and his positivity was absolutely contagious,” Austin junior Sarah Brodsky said. “The way he was able to joke and remain so hopeful and joyful in what I am sure is the darkest time of his life spoke volumes.”

Of the chapter’s $184,000 that they raised last year, $156,000 of that was raised solely from its annual letter writing campaign, where most members write around 50 personalized letters to friends and family asking them to support St. Jude. The rest of the money was raised through Baylor-specific events, “Delta Night Live” and “Game Day.”

“At the heart of Tri Delta’s purpose is a genuine desire to serve others, and these girls embody that so well,” Bradenton, Fla., junior Allison Malcom, Baylor Tri Delta’s philanthropy chair, said. “Driving these events are girls that truly care about St. Jude and benefitting the families facing the realities of childhood cancer, and I think that is how we are able to raise so much money even through simple events.”

Baylor Tri Delta’s annual “Game Day” event Nov. 12 on Fountain Mall will be during the Baylor versus Oklahoma football game and will include food, drinks and a large projector showing the away game. All proceeds from tickets and T-shirts will go directly to St. Jude.