Cornell’s Sigma Chi fraternity hosted Derby Days, its annual philanthropy event, throughout the first week of May, raising money for the Huntsman Cancer Institute and The Matthew Friedman Memorial Foundation.
Every year, the fraternity collaborates with multiple sororities in the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby to raise awareness for their philanthropic mission and to foster collaboration and friendly competition among the Greek organizations.
During the week, the members of the Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta sororities competed for points in several events — including a banner design contest, a scavenger hunt, a carnival and “Miles for Matt,” a challenge to run the most miles in honor of Matthew, who was an avid runner and high school track star. The process of earning points in these events ranged from getting the most likes on an Instagram post of each sorority’s respective banner, to completing the items on the scavenger hunt first, to spending the most money on car washes, food and petting zoo admission fees at the carnival.
Derby Days began as a tradition at the University of California Berkeley in 1933. During the 1960s, many other chapters across the country started their own iterations of the event, creating a vast network of Sigma Chi chapters working together to raise funds for charity — with no significant link between Sigma Chi and the Kentucky Derby.
Each year, the event supports the Huntsman Cancer Institute, an organization dedicated to researching, treating and eradicating all forms of cancer. This year, Derby Days included another mission very important to the Sigma Chi brothers — honoring the memory of Matthew Friedman ’26, a beloved member who tragically suffered a brain aneurysm and died in April 2023.