Sororities and fraternity hold powderpuff football game in honor of Josh Balara ’24

by Btari Laksono | 6/1/23

Sisters of Alpha Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma sororities faced off against one another in a powderpuff football match, coached by brothers of Gamma Delta Chi fraternity, to raise money for the Josh Balara Scholarship Fund.

On Friday, May 12, the sisters of Alpha Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma sororities, as well as the brothers of Gamma Delta Chi fraternity, hosted “PHrIday KKniGht LiGDXghts,” a powderpuff football fundraiser in honor of Josh Balara ’24. Balara died at age 21 in March after a battle with stage four adrenal cancer. He was an offensive lineman on the Dartmouth football team and a member of GDX, and he is remembered for his warmth and sense of humor. 

The event had a $5 minimum donation as its entrance fee. According to an email sent out by GDX, “an anonymous donor will match $10,000, so having the entrance fee brings us closer to our goal in supporting Josh and his community back at home.” The fundraiser sought to honor Balara’s memory by raising money towards the Josh Balara Scholarship Fund by the Luzerne Foundation. 

According to the Luzerne Foundation’s website, this scholarship is “a tribute to Josh’s legacy that epitomized exemplary character, kindness and sportsmanship.” It will be awarded annually to one football player from Balara’s high school, Dallas High School. 

While donations are still coming in, co-organizers Eleanor Benton ’25 and Madelyn Goebel ’25 said that the event raised around $6,000. An anonymous donor is willing to match this donation, making $12,000 the total amount raised. 

Benton and Goebel said they felt very happy about the event’s success, and that they hope to make the powderpuff fundraiser an annual event for Balara’s scholarship fund. 

“The Upper Valley community and the Dartmouth community were able to come together for such a great cause and make such an impact,” Benton said. “I’m hoping we can make this an annual thing.”

Held at Memorial Field, spectators watched as APhi faced off against KKG sisters in a game of powderpuff football. The rules of powderpuff football are similar to that of flag football: To end a down, players must try to remove a flag worn from another player instead of tackling her. Each team consists of seven players. Although it was a tight game in both halves, the sisters of APhi won the game. 

Benton and Goebel had discussed organizing a powderpuff game between their two houses, APhi and KKG respectively. Working with philanthropy chair of GDX Will Tarnowski ’24, along with other members of the fraternity, Benton and Goebel decided to combine the powderpuff game with a fundraiser for Balara’s scholarship fund, seeking to involve as many stakeholders as possible. 

“We talked to a lot of different actors within the Dartmouth community and the local community,” Benton said. “We went door to door asking local businesses to support this effort and all of them were very receptive to that.” 

Goebel described while organizing the event, the philanthropy chairs of each Greek space had to take precautions to mitigate the risks that came with the game. Planning involved acquiring two Safety and Security officers, two volunteers as EMTs, athletic insurance and a town permit to turn on the stadium lights. 

“I’d say the event became much bigger than any of us imagined very fast,” Goebel said. “The challenge [of organizing the event] became very logistics-heavy.”

GDX brothers participated in the event as coaches, referees and cheerleaders. 

“We created a group chat with GDX coaches for our respective teams,” Benton said. “GDX coaches created some playbooks we had to memorize beforehand. Both Kappas and Alpha Phis showed up 30 minutes before game time to practice throws with our coaches.”

Joshua Pasaribu ’23, a brother of GDX, said he believes the event was important because it showed how the Dartmouth community came together to support one another after the tragic loss of a classmate.

“It is nice to see people show up and care about one of your peers who passed away,” Pasaribu said.