Derby Days raises $232,600 for cancer treatment and research

Apr 30, 2024, by Stephen Kostrzewa

Bryant's Derby Days fundraiser collected $228,000 to benefit the Huntsman Cancer Institute, shattering the previous record of $153,814.


The crowd is four people deep in the Rotunda as the assembled students watch a member of the university’s chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity continuously refresh the results of the week-long Derby Days fundraising drive, held annually in support of cancer research and patient care, on the big screen.

Though there’s still a day left, they are zeroing in on their target goal of $160,000 — nearly $7,000 more than last year’s record-breaking total of $153,824. Small whoops go out as the number rises incrementally, mixed in with good-natured boos when it remains stagnant.

When the total finally crosses the $160,000 mark, the group goes wild, letting loose a roar that can be heard throughout the entire Unistructure building.

But even with their goal met, the dedicated students aren’t done yet, not by a longshot.

“Let’s go,” yells Sigma Chi member Braeden Macneil ’24, louder still than all of the cheers around him. “Next stop, $200,000!” Yet even he, in his optimism and faith in his community, underestimates the generosity around him.

A little more than 24 hours later, Derby Days chair Brandon Kestenbaum’ 24 announces at the closing ceremonies that the fundraiser has raised a staggering grand total of $232,600 in support of the Huntsman Cancer Institute — buoyed by the more than 430 Bryant students and other members of the university community who took part. With this total, Bryant was second in North America for fundraising out of all of the Sigma Chi chapters that participate in Derby Days.

“I don’t think I ever could have imagined this,” Kestenbaum admits. “We didn’t just hit our goal this year, we crushed it. 

“Every year the community finds a way to top itself.”

Organized by the Sigma Chi fraternity as part of a nationwide effort, the drive has collected more than $600,000 at Bryant over the years and become a signature event on campus. The Bryant Derby Days council, made up of Sigma Chi brothers, sorority representatives, and other students, engages the campus community throughout the school year in support of raising both funds and awareness. Their efforts culminate in Derby Days itself, the result of nearly a year of planning, which takes in donations from nearly every corner of campus and was supported by a range of campus partners, including headline sponsor AVI Foodsystems.