When Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas, less than 200 miles off the coast of South Florida, it hit home for the Florida Gamma family at the University of Miami. When seeing the devastation, Michael Falcon, a brother of the University of Miami’s Florida Gamma chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity with family ties throughout the Caribbean and especially in the Abacos, sprung into action.
Michael, who spends his free time crewing sport fishing boats, started his relief efforts by stopping at nearly every marina in Miami to talk with boat owners, fishermen, and dockworkers about the apocalyptic conditions in the Abacos and telling them how they could help. He partnered with Sea Hunter boats, a fishing and leisure boat manufacturer based out of South Florida, to raise more than $20,000 in donations and emergency supplies within the first day. Michael’s partners from Sea Hunter, have been going back and forth to the Abacos by plane and boat, dropping off supplies and picking up residents that have been devastated by the biggest impacts of Dorian. Relief teams would pick up the stranded victims of Dorian, ferry them to other islands with available shelter, access to food and water, and basic necessities.
That first fundraiser was just the beginning of Michael and Sea Hunter’s efforts. Since the storm subsided, their team has worked to organize hundreds of planes to drop off materials, collect donations of clothing, diapers, non-perishables, and medical supplies from local community groups such as Michael’s high school alma mater, Westminster Christian School. Thus far, Michael and Sea Hunter have helped organize more than five 18-wheelers worth of supplies.
Sea Hunter is still accepting donations of water, canned goods, sports drinks, clothing, blankets, items for infant care, tarps, generators, flashlights, and any other supplies that might be needed. If you wish to make a donation, you can drop off in-kind donations at SigEp suite at the University of Miami, or make a financial contribution HERE.
With the leadership of our Philanthropy Board, consisting of Felipe Zadala ’22, Blake Miller ’20, Chris Montoya, Jack Vandermolen ‘22, and Colin Hively ‘22, and chaired by Danny Adams, our chapter has raised $2,000 and still counting since we began fundraising last week. It has been an incredible experience for everyone to see the whole community come together to help those in dire need, and we are excited to continue our fundraising efforts throughout the semester!