The Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at the University of Rhode Island is raising money for a local 2-year-old girl who was diagnosed with cancer.
Josie DeSimone, a resident of Narragansett, Rhode Island, was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor on Dec. 21, 2015. A tumor attached to her kidney, the size of a softball, was successfully removed on Dec. 24, 2015. Josie has completed eight weeks of chemotherapy out of her 25-week treatment.
Dan Vitagliano, vice president for Tau Kappa Epsilon and public relations chair for Inter Fraternity Council, was the one who brought the idea of raising money for Josie to his fraternity. Vitagliano works at Charlie O’s Tavern in Narragansett alongside Josie’s mother, who he has known for about a year and a half. When he heard about her daughter’s condition, Vitagliano thought there had to be some way that he could involve his fraternity to help the family.
“Being vice president, you oversee all the different chairmen so I spoke with our philanthropy chair and spoke to him about the idea,” Vitagliano said.
He added that in the fall, all of the fraternity’s philanthropy works goes toward St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but in the spring they have free reign. Vitagliano and the rest of his fraternity agreed to put all of their philanthropy efforts into helping Josie.
Vitagliano said that he understands the struggle that the DeSimone family is going though financially, having family members and knowing people that have been affected by cancer. This cause really hits home for a lot of the brothers in their chapter as well, because a lot of them know someone who has been diagnosed with and suffered from cancer.
The fraternity collectively hopes to help lessen some of the stress and expenses placed on the family.
“It’s really a lot more personable being that it’s someone that we know, we’re not just donating to an organization,” Vitagliano said. “Being that she’s from Narragansett, it’s a very small community. And [the] majority of college kids at URI that live off campus live in Narragansett, and many of them go to Charlie O’s on the weekend so they really feel like they’re attached to her and that they’re helping her out as well.”
Tau Kappa Epsilon has worked with Delta Zeta sorority and Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity to raise money for the DeSimone family. Working with Phi Kappa Alpha, they raised over $1,000 in cash donations. This upcoming week they will be working with Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. They will be on the quad today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. collecting money.
“Our fraternity started it and it’s turned into a whole campaign that’s encompassing all of Greek life, which is really great to see Greek life unifying and coming together, rather than being our own separate chapters,” Vitagliano said. “Greek life is all about philanthropy and community service. It’s a lot more than just the social aspect to it. Within our chapter we really try to emphasize that with all our members and how important it is and how you can really make a difference and help out other people.”
On behalf of the DeSimone family, Vitagliano reached out to the Family Reach Organization, a multimillion-dollar organization that provides help to families affected by cancer.
The fraternity has also set up a GoFundMe page that has already generated over $4,000 in support of Josie. The page will be live all semester, and all of the money raised will go toward helping the DeSimone family. To donate, visit: gofundme.com/JosiesAndTKEsFight.