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Stories from the Road

The Boys in Lederhosen

Over 50 Riders from Sigma Phi Epsilon unite with the BellRinger community, raising more than $50,000 for cancer research since 2022

6 min read

Picture this: a group of 53 college students cruising on bikes through the streets of the DMV in lederhosen on a Saturday morning in October. Passerbys might have had their curiosity piqued, but the BellRinger community knows exactly who they are — “the SigEp boys.” Team Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) is a fraternity and brotherhood comprised of Georgetown University students dedicated to making an impact.

A Fraternity Banding Together

Rooted in philanthropy and community, SigEp has participated in numerous fundraising events since their inception in 2007. In 2022, they were introduced to BellRinger, which presented them with a new way to get involved and get connected with a community of people passionate about ending cancer. Current Vice President of Philanthropy and Team Captain Eric Fava-Pastilha shared that BellRinger gave the brotherhood a unique opportunity to contribute to their community.

With BellRinger, we saw the opportunity to not only fundraise for a good cause, but to be a part of something that was bigger than Georgetown and ourselves.

Eric Fava-Pastilha, 25-Mile Rider

Team SigEp showed out in numbers and in style during BellRinger’s Inaugural Ride in 2022, with nearly 30 Riders who raised more than $18,000 for cancer research. After getting a taste of what the weekend experience was like and how it unified their brotherhood, they knew immediately that BellRinger was to soon become an annual event that they would never miss out on.

The Boys in Lederhosen

With over 960 Riders participating in BellRinger, it’s not common for so many people to remember one group so prominently — but SigEp shattered that norm.

A visual spectacle and a symbol of unity, SigEp’s tradition of donning lederhosen during BellRinger has become an iconic aspect of their participation. Georgetown graduate and SigEp brother Scott Kase’s idea turned a unique fashion choice into a fraternity-wide tradition. After riding in style during year one, SigEp returned to the start line at Georgetown University decked out in costume ready to take on their rides this past October.

25 Mile-Rider and SigEp brother Kyle Nicholson shared that BellRinger was an outlet for their organization to do something good for the community, while also having fun and connecting with each other on a deeper level.

BellRinger was the opportunity to not only join a bigger community in fighting cancer, but to strengthen the relationships within our brotherhood as well. This was the perfect way for everyone to recognize us as a unified group coming together.

Kyle Nicholson, 25-Mile Rider

Furthering SigEp’s Impact

After coming out on top as BellRinger’s largest student team in 2022, SigEp knew they had work to do in maintaining their number one spot on the leaderboard. After they had such a great experience during their first BellRinger, many of the brothers felt a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out!) for not participating and committed to doing so in 2023.

Upon returning back to Georgetown University in the Fall of 2023, 53 members of SigEp signed up to ride all three distances during BellRinger. After almost doubling the number of Riders, they were excited to begin fundraising both personally and as a team. From water balloon fundraisers to casino nights, their approach is as diverse as it is engaging. Satchel Kim, 100-mile Rider and incoming Vice President of Philanthropy for SigEp, shared that the fundraising aspect of BellRinger just adds to experience.

The fundraising is the best challenge because it ends up making BellRinger that much more fun and meaningful. Parents, family members, and coworkers are all really happy and willing to help.

Satchel Kim, 100-Mile Rider

SigEp increased their fundraising to over $30,000 during BellRinger 2023, 100% of which goes to impacting groundbreaking cancer research at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The “Why” for SigEp’s Riders

Eric is a senior who completed his second 25-mile Ride in BellRinger last fall. His grandmother, who passed away from cancer just a few years ago, served as his biggest motivator to get involved. BellRinger 2023 was made even more special for him, as his entire family came down to cheer on him and his father in tandem with his fraternity brothers as he crossed the finish line.

“I might not be the best bike rider, and I tend to come in at the back of the pack. But that final turn at the finish line… seeing all the guys cheering for me. I can confidently say that turning the bend is my favorite event of the semester each year. The excitement of seeing my family, my SigEp brothers — there is nothing like it.”

Combining his love for cycling and his personal experiences with cancer, participating in BellRinger was a no-brainer for Satchel. Having lost many impactful women in his life to breast cancer, Satchel sees BellRinger as the convergence of his love for cycling and a purpose larger than himself.

“Being an athlete could be a selfish thing sometimes, but riding for a purpose makes riding 100 miles so easy. And especially getting to see all my friends when I get home back in Georgetown — it makes it feel like nothing.”

After getting a taste of the behind-the-scenes work of researchers through his undergraduate classes, Kyle’s perspective on joining BellRinger became that much more meaningful. His favorite part about riding in BellRinger is the ability to connect with others on the route with his brothers.

“From stopping at the rest stops to cheering on other Riders along the course, there is no feeling like spending that time with my SigEp brothers doing something fun for a good cause.”

A Continued Commitment to Cancer Research

As SigEp looks towards the future, their vision extends beyond personal achievements. Satchel expressed the fraternity’s desire for increased participation and ambitious fundraising goals for BellRinger 2024.

Satchel shared, “We want 75% of guys in the fraternity next year to be involved somehow, whether they Ride or volunteer. Our goal is to raise $40,000.”

The impact of SigEp’s involvement in BellRinger extends far beyond a single weekend in October. It has become a beacon of inspiration within the Georgetown community, motivating not just other fraternity members but other student groups to get involved and have fun. The distinctive lederhosen-clad riders, with their innovative fundraising abilities and a determination to show up as a unified group has set a standard for philanthropy that goes beyond the traditional bounds of college students.

Each member contributes to the collective spirit, whether riding, volunteering, or cheering from the sidelines. Sigma Phi Epsilon doesn’t merely participate in a bike ride — they actively contribute to the BellRinger community’s fabric. As they look towards BellRinger 2024 and beyond, their shared commitment only enhances the impact of their participation, turning BellRinger from a bike ride to a collective journey towards a cancer-free future.

January 11, 2024

100% of funds raised support

Academic Health System Partner