ANN ARBOR, MI – A crowd of thousands will converge around an icy rink this Saturday at the Sigma Nu fraternity house at the University of Michigan.
It may seem like a party, but it’s actually the culmination of a month-long fundraising event that will provide tens of thousands of dollars for a trio of local charities.
This year’s Winterfest event, a collaboration between Sigma Nu, the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association, raised at least $145,000 as of Wednesday, Feb. 16, according to the crowdfunding page. The organizers believe the amount sets a new record.
The fundraising is the prelude to Saturday’s broomball tournament at the Sigma Nu house, 700 Oxford Road in Ann Arbor. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 19, fraternities and sororities that raised enough money will participate in the tournament in front of a crowd that has reached 4,000 people in the past, said sophomore Joshua Strand, the Sigma Nu philanthropy chair from Lake Orion.
Between the record haul and the upcoming crowd, the experience has been strange but satisfying, he said.
“It’s very, very weird to look at the website that I created and all the emails I sent out to see all the notifications of donations coming in,” he said. “Two to three weeks ago, I saw us at only $8,000 and barely breaking even on costs. Now looking at the $140,000 number, and it’s crazy.”
Winterfest was paused the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this year has seen renewed interest that has fueled higher donations, he said. The 2019 haul reached about $110,000, said IFC President Nathan Satterfield.
Donations close on Thursday, giving Sigma Nu and the participating fraternities and sororities a few more hours to reach their stretch goal of $150,000. The final haul will be split evenly between Autism Alliance of Michigan, the Women’s Center of Southeast Michigan and the veteran support center Fisher House Michigan.
While unsure whether this is record charity fundraising within UM Greek Life, this year’s Winterfest is “one of the highest joint philanthropy events in recent years,” Satterfield said.