Story by Maya Butler | Reporter, Video by Melanie Pace | Broadcast Reporter
Students on campus dressed in their finest outfits and shoes for Delta Delta Delta sorority’s first “Sunday Shoez” semiformal at 7 p.m. Sunday in Russell Gymnasium.
Multicolored balloons, decorative streamers and thumping beats transformed the gym into a space for dancing and social fun. An ice cream bar satisfied attendees’ sweet tooth while live cover band Overdrive sang popular tunes to the crowd. The new event replaced Tri Delta Gameday, a watch party and tailgate put on by the sorority in previous years.
Houston senior and Tri Delta president Elaine Renberg explained why the sorority brainstormed a new on-campus event for the fall semester.
“We wanted to create a new philanthropy event that met a need that we saw on our campus,” Renberg said. “We realized there’s no all-university semiformal that’s not a Western dance. [It’s] just a place to foster inclusivity and community and have a way for everyone to come together and enjoy a night at Baylor.”
Nonprofit organization St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a pediatric center that researches treatment and cures for childhood cancers, serves as the sorority’s national philanthropy.
According to the nonprofit’s webpage, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease past infancy for U.S. children. About 175,000 children ages 14 and under are diagnosed with cancer every year, with leukemia (a type of blood cancer) as the most common cancer afflicting children.
One of the reasons Boerne senior Meredith Steward, philanthropy chair, decided to join Tri Delta was because of its national philanthropy.
“My best friend passed away from a childhood cancer while I was going through rush,” Steward said. “That very next day, I went through the Tri Delta room, and they were talking about childhood cancer and what St. Jude does, and so I was just blown away. That really moved me to join Tri Delta because they’re just passionate about philanthropy.”
Sorority members promoted the debut of Sunday Shoez the week before by selling $15 T-shirts. Students could buy tickets early for $7 or pay $10 the night of the dance. All proceeds earned from the dance went toward St. Jude and local nonprofit organization Mission Waco, with 40 percent going toward Mission Waco.
The Baylor chapter of Tri Delta raised over $270,000 for St. Jude last year, making it the No. 1 fundraising chapter in the nation for the second year in a row. In addition, sorority members travel every fall and tour St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for the chance to see firsthand where all their philanthropic efforts go.
Memphis, Tenn., sophomore Katherine Nesbitt has visited the children’s research hospital since it is located in her hometown.
“To watch the kids … it’s witnessing a different kind of strength than what you would see on a TV commercial,” Nesbitt said. “These kids are fighters, the most incredible people — they’re half my size, and I look up to them.”
Nesbitt attended Sunday Shoez because of her past visit to St. Jude.
“I’m all about it,” Nesbitt said. “When I walked by their table and saw the pictures of the little kids, I was like, ‘I love it. I’m there.’”