Zeta Tau Alpha events raise money for national, local breast cancer organizations


Mickey Hutchings

Members of Zeta Tau Alpha selling tickets for their run benefiting breast cancer research on Monday.

Savannah Nguyen, Senior A&C Reporter

Zeta Tau Alpha member knows that being a sister goes beyond DNA. She knows a real sister helps other women understand the importance of breast cancer awareness. With October being the month to celebrate breast cancer survivors and to bring attention to the cause, ZTA reminds everyone to “Think Pink” every day.

The sorority has nationally supported the cause for over 25 years and the trademarked motto, “Think Pink,” has served as a pillar of example even before the inauguration of the phrase in 2004.

For some girls who plan to join Greek life during rush season, the reality of becoming an official member means having the college experience of sorority sisterhood, or maybe it means late nights out after a party. However, for some girls, a sorority’s philanthropy can be the make or break factor that solidifies their decision to accept a bid.

For senior political science major, Kate Fersinger, a current member of ZTA, the union of the motto “Think Pink” and ZTA’s founding expression “seek the noblest” in part inspired her decision to accept the bid for ZTA.

Fersinger is also on the Board of Directors for the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation and a representative for the sorority. Fersinger said she was drawn to ZTA after one of her family members was affected by breast cancer.

“My grandmother passed away from breast cancer,” Fersinger said. “When I found out that breast cancer awareness was Zeta’s philanthropy, it really hit home.”

Up until last year, ZTA’s Lambda Kappa chapter did not have a local philanthropy. When Irene Sawyer, founder of the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation, reached out to Fersinger last year to start a partnership, it presented firsts for both groups.

“When I worked with other non-profits they would usually have a home base where they would hold meetings. But all of the volunteers are adults who work full-time jobs so maybe we would meet on campus or at the founder’s house,” Fersinger said.

However, with Sawyer being a breast cancer survivor herself, the passion behind her foundation goes beyond the confines of walls. The organization guarantees that 100 percent of the proceeds collected will stay in the community by providing monetary assistance to help pay for everything from transportation to the hospital, nutritional education, wigs or hats for survivors with hair loss and even for child care during chemotherapy sessions.

ZTA’s Lamba Kappa chapter initiated a 5K fundraiser for the emerging foundation last year and will keep the tradition going by helping to put on the second annual race on Oct. 27 at 9 a.m. starting at American Legion in Blowing Rock.

“We never had anything just for us so when Irene contacted us it just felt so perfect,” Fersinger said. “When we participate in the 5K we interact with survivors and we’re able to see how excited Irene and other survivors are.”

Although some ZTA sisters may not have had breast cancer directly affect their lives, many can agree that the pink ribbons they wear are much more than just an accessory. Supporters of the cause can be seen sporting the eye-catching ribbons across campus and back in their hometowns. Athletes in the NFL from all 32 teams that are national partners with ZTA can be seen wearing bright pink socks on game days throughout October.

“To me it is a symbol of hope,” Allyson Medlin, sophomore nursing major, said.

Medlin is the ZTA Service Chairman and said that although she has not been affected by breast cancer, it holds a special place in her heart.

“As we see people walking around with the Think Pink ribbons it shows the spreading awareness for breast cancer, because I don’t think most people know that it does affect one in eight women,” Medlin said. “It really shows how big the community is for those who are trying to fight against it.”

Director of Philanthropy Maddy Browning, junior exercise science major, has over 500 pink ribbons in her apartment and although she has also not been affected by the cancer directly, she said her participation with ZTA has opened her eyes to the reality of breast cancer and the need for awareness.

“It makes me happy seeing people I don’t even know wearing the ribbons across campus so it really presents a feeling that we’re making an impact and spreading awareness,” Browning said.

To raise money for their national philanthropy, the American Cancer Association, ZTA is rallying the High Country together for this year’s Pigskin Pink-Out on Oct. 21 from 4-7 p.m on Duck Pond Field. The annual football tournament promises jams, food and a free T-shirt for teams that register to take part in the event. Teams of 7-10 can register for $100 while spectators can watch the festivities for free with a $5 Woodlands BBQ plate.

To raise more money, the sorority is asking for sponsorship submissions. The sponsorships give the option for local businesses and campus organizations to display their names on everything from banners to T-shirts on game day for the event. One sponsorship level covers a team’s entry fee for the game.

Story by Savannah Nguyen

Photo by Mickey Hutchings

Featured Photo Caption: Members of Zeta Tau Alpha selling tickets for their run benefiting breast cancer research on Monday.