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IUPUI students raise funds for breast cancer research with second annual Big Man on Campus

Apr. 17, 2014

For many years, IU Bloomington students have worked to support breast cancer research through an annual fundraiser and talent show known as "Big Man on Campus." Now, students at the university's urban campus in Indianapolis are also working to establish the tradition at IUPUI.

Breast cancer fundraiser

IUPUI students raised more than $10,000 for cancer research through this year's Big Man on Campus event.

The second annual IUPUI Big Man on Campus, organized by the Zeta Tau Alpha Lambda Epsilon Chapter at IUPUI, took place April 3 at the NCAA Hall of Champions.

The fundraiser, in which fraternities at IUPUI select a single representative to participate in the talent show, raised more than $10,000 for breast cancer research, education and awareness and brought out more than 500 IUPUI students, staff and faculty to support the cause.

"Seeing students come together for something like this is really inspiring," said Bryan P. Schneider, M.D., associate professor and Vera Bradley investigator in oncology at the IU School of Medicine, who served as keynote speaker for the event. "The IU Simon Cancer Center, and all the other cancer centers across the country, really depend on fundraising and support in many ways. The event these students put on was really full of inspiration, and also ultimately will help important research to carry on."

Dr. Schneider was invited to speak by Danielle Matlon, a Zeta Tau Alpha member and student at the IUPUI School of Nursing, who has spent time working at Dr. Schneider's breast cancer clinic at the IU Simon Cancer Center. Also speaking was Kim Pinto, a breast cancer survivor who spoke publically about her experience with the disease for the first time at the event.

Both speakers addressed the importance of fundraisers and awareness in the fight against cancer, as well as how everyone has personal connections to the disease.

"When we think about something like breast cancer, it touches all of us; it's a very common disease," Dr. Schneider said. "Whether we get it personally or we have a mom or a daughter or a sister or a wife or friend affected, we're all touched by it. I always try to emphasize the importance of this being a team effort."

Schneider keynote

Bryan P. Schneider, M.D., a physician at the IU Simon Cancer Center, delivered the keynote address.

Kyla Keith, a freshman at IUPUI and chair of the Big Man on Campus, said she and her fellow organizers want to see the event become a new tradition at IUPUI, which has experienced growth in the number of undergraduates participating in student life due to the opening of the IUPUI Tower in 2013.

They aim to model their success on the Big Man on Campus at IU Bloomington, which last year raised more than $175,000 for breast cancer research. Proceeds from that fundraiser contributed in part to the research of Harikrishna Nakshatri, Ph.D., professor of surgery and Marian J. Morrison Professor of Breast Cancer Research at the IU School of Medicine, who spoke at the event in 2013.

"Seeing how big our own event at IUPUI has gotten in the last two years is really exciting and encouraging," Keith said. "You really see more and more people coming to campus events; more and more people trying to get involved. It's great that there is so much support for such a good cause at IUPUI. It's really a cause that everyone on campus embraces and recognizes, and that we're proud to support."

The theme of the 2014 IUPUI Big Man on Campus was "The Great Gatsby," giving the night a glitzy, 1920s vibe and providing participants an opportunity to wear their finest suits and flapper-style fashions. Student talents at the event ranged from group dances to a poetry reading. IUPUI student Nick Kline, a member of Delta Sigma Phi at IUPUI, received the title of Big Man on Campus in recognition of his talent as well as the amount of money personally raised for breast cancer education and awareness.


IUPUI fraternity and sorority members danced and performed other talents during the fundraiser's capstone event at the NCAA Hall of Champions.

All participating fraternity members, as well as members of Zeta Tau Alpha, raised money for months leading up to the show through events such as "Dine-to-Donate" nights, in which local restaurants including Noodles and Co., Scotty’s Brewhouse and the Stacked Pickle donated a portion of their day's profits to the cause in exchange for students driving business to their doors. IUPUI students also arranged a series of "penny war" tables at the IUPUI Campus Center, in which fraternitiess would try to "out donate" one another using only pennies, nickels and dimes.

Other breast cancer education and awareness events supported by the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation, which coordinates more than 200 chapters across the U.S., include the Think Pink campaign, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the National Football League's "A Crucial Catch” campaign.

Plans for next year's IUPUI Big Man on Campus have already begun, according to Keith, with the 2015 event moving to the fourth floor banquet hall at the IUPUI Campus Center, which will provide even more space than the NCAA.

"We're very excited for the future," she said. "We’re eager about giving more supporters the chance to attend the event and also to continue to raise breast cancer awareness across campus."

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