Derby Days: ‘Fun’raising for cancer research

In its second year since returning from a six-year hiatus, Derby Days, run by Sigma Chi fraternity in partnership with the Huntsman Cancer Institute, is in full swing.

The weeklong money-raising event that involves the four Youngstown State University sororities started Monday and will run through Saturday.

“We involve the sororities in daily competitions and basically just raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Institute, which is a really hopeful place,” said Justin Haught, the chair of Derby Days.

The Huntsman Cancer Institute researches cancer at the molecular level. Last year, Sigma Chi raised about $3,000 for the institute. Haught said he expects to raise more money this year.

“It was a little rough just because it was the first year,” Haught said. “But things are going a lot smoother this year. A lot of the sororities are really behind it, which is really good.”

A difference from last year, donations can be made online at The minimum donation is $10, while there is no maximum.

“It’s an easy way to get the information out, and it’s an easy way to donate,” Haught said. “Every penny that you give goes straight to research. Nothing goes to advertising or anything else.”

Also on the website, teams can be created and registered for daily events. The events, which are another way Derby Days raises money, began on Monday with opening ceremonies.

Thursday’s events are Golden Dash — a scavenger hunt — in the afternoon and Derby Dancing from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sigma Chi fraternity house. A team of five for the dance competition costs $20.

A Jeopardy/questionnaire competition will be Friday along with a mural painting contest. Derby Days concludes Saturday with a volleyball tournament — also costing $20 for a team of five — at Mill Creek Park.

“Some of the events are just for fun. Others are what we do to raise money,” Haught said.

Sign-A-Sig Day — where members had their shirt signed for a price of $1 or 50 cents — was all day Tuesday, while a cook-off at the Newman Center took place at night. Teams were judged for their meals’ taste, creativity and presentation.

Wednesday’s events were Quidditch at The Rock in the afternoon, while a raffle and Brother auction at O’Donold’s was held at night.

“It’s really difficult to put on because it’s a week long,” Haught said. “You can’t just plan for one thing. It definitely is a challenge.”

Each sorority team is assigned a head coach and an assistant coach, as well as a team captain called a “Derby Darling.”

At the end of the week, whichever team wins — based on the point system that totals results from each event — has their Derby Darling crowned as the Derby Queen.

“It’s all so that they can have a lot of fun,” Haught said. “But it’s also to do something really good with the Huntsman Cancer Institute.”