By Alice Terriquez
Cancer sucks. Cuck Fancer is awesome.
Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPI) teamed up with Pi Kappa Alpha for the third year in a row for the 5th annual Cuck Fancer Philanthropy Week. From April 3 through April 7, events were open to the entire UCI community to share the goal of raising awareness and supporting young adult cancer research.
Cuck Fancer is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and getting resources for young adults battling cancer. This organization was founded by UCI and Alpha Epsilon Pi alumnus Ben Teller. Teller is a three-time cancer survivor, winning his first battle in 2008 and his most recent one in 2013.
As the organization’s founder, he dedicates himself to helping young adults battle cancer. Teller believes that young adults need a special type of support, and hopes that by sharing his story as a three-time cancer survivor, he can help people like himself who might feel isolated.
Teller has a very special mentality centered around the question: “Why not me?” He believes that, instead of pitying himself and being negative, he has the potential — alongside the AEPI fraternities — to think positively and do good things, a mentality reflected by the enthusiasm and commitment that AEPI has demonstrated all week.
AEPI has committed itself to contributing significantly to the cause, through donations, head-shaving and swabbing for the bone marrow registry. The money raised goes towards providing young adult survivors with rent money, tuition, car payments or any other monetary assistance that could help balance the expensive medical bills that come with cancer. Cuck Fancer does this by giving out the Cuck It Grants, which have been awarded to 18 individuals in the past two years.
Last year alone, the UCI community helped raise over $12,000 for young adults battling cancer, shaved over 50 heads and swabbed over 250 volunteers into the bone marrow registry. Thanks to cooperation from UCI’s community, there have been three perfect matches for bone marrow transplants from UCI alone.
“Becoming president of my fraternity aided my fervor and involvement in the event,” said AEPI President Noah Popick.
Popick was in charge of coordinating the event this year, responsible for the logistics such as booking the barber for April 6’s “Picture Yourself Cuckin’ It & Shave a Head” event. This event was preceded by an online fundraiser where members of AEPI and the UCI community made donations and shaved heads to stand in solidarity with cancer survivors. 25 members of the UCI community, including ASUCI President Parshan Khosravi, pledged to shave their heads.
This year, not only did AEPI receive help from PIKE, but they also received help from the Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) sorority for Tuesday’s event “Be the Match! Swabbing,” where Be The Match, an organization that helps facilitate swabbing registrants into the bone marrow registry, came on campus and helped Cuck Fancer aim to surpass the 250 swabs from last year’s event. The process is simple: You fill out the information packet at the booth, get your cheek swabbed with cotton swabs and then seal your packet.
“College students have the energy and time to mobilize and make this a successful event and save lives,” said Jenny Ortiz, an AXO member. “The gentlemen of AEPI are committed to the events of this week, and that is why were so eager to come out and help,”
Erin Brooker, another member of AXO, shared her story on swabbing last year and being a match: “It is such a great cause. In reality, the chances of being chosen are really slim — even though when I did it last year I was a match — and it’s very voluntary. At every step, they ask you if you want to continue, since you can stop at any point.” This year, Brooker came back to help AEPI get more people registered for the bone marrow registry by sharing her story and inspiring others to take five minutes out of their day to save a life.
Alex Silver, an AEPI member and the fraternity’s previous president, understood the power that the fraternity has to springboard Cuck Fancer to new heights.
“I am aware that AEPI is not the biggest fraternity on campus, but we still want to have the biggest impact,” said Silver.
Silver is also responsible for the inspiration and execution of the head shaving event on Wednesday.
“I wanted to figure out how to raise more money, and so we started this head shaving campaign, raising money before the event, and it gave us a new audience,” he explained.
Cuck Fancer has now expanded to other colleges, like UC Riverside, UC Berkeley and Cal Poly Slo, and wishes to one day reach the east coast.
Cuck Fancer Philanthropy Week is no longer just T-shirt sales, but a community, of family and friends that has done an excellent job fundraising for the past two years.