By LIZ MACLEAN
Sigma Phi Epsilon (Sig Ep) brother Vincent Cupertino, a senior international business and marketing major, is organizing a campus-wide variety show on March 19 in Martinez to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. The best part is, the winner of the variety show may have the chance to meet Seth Rogen at a private movie screening.
Sig Ep’s variety show is part of a nation-wide competition called Hilarity for Charity University (HFC U), which is part of Seth Rogen’s organization, Hilarity for Charity (HFC). Rogen started HFC four years ago to fight Alzheimer’s and bring awareness of the disease to the Millennial generation. Since then, it has raised $4.2 million dollars through fundraising.
HFC holds events around the nation where entertainers such as Aziz Ansari, Bruno Mars, Kevin Hart, and The Backstreet Boys perform to raise money. Donations go toward in-home care grants so family members can hire professionals to take care of their loved ones with Alzheimer’s, rather than sending them to a nursing home.
In 2014, HFC U was started. Schools all over the US can compete to raise the most money and win a visit from Seth Rogen. Over 230 schools raised over $200,000 for HFC U in years past. This year, UT decided to join the competition.
“Probably the best thing about HFC U for Tampa is that there aren’t many organizations that as a campus we can all support,” Cupertino said. “We have the St. Jude’s Up ‘Til Dawn and we have Relay for Life, which are great organizations. But as college kids we don’t necessarily see any repercussions from it. So this way, at least we have some incentive to raise money where [Seth Rogen] could actually come to our campus.”
Cupertino decided to enter his fraternity, Sig Ep, in the HFC U competition last October when his grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s. He didn’t know about the competition until a month after the starting date, Sept. 2, when he discovered the HFC website. Even though they joined the competition late, Sig Ep and other UT students, along with their friends and family members, raised the most money, $2,000, within a week out of all the other schools.
Cupertino, who had raised the most money so far on the UT team (as well as in the nation), won the opportunity to meet Seth Rogen on the set of Neighbors 2 in Atlanta on Oct. 12. The trip was funded by HFC U, and Cupertino got to “hang out” on set for four hours and meet several cast members, including Seth Rogen, Chloe Mortensen and Zac Efron.
“It was really exciting,” Cupertino said. “They were really great people; nice guys. It was a great experience.”
After several months of fundraising, students at the University of Vermont, who were the 2014 and 2015 winners, are in first place with $10,000. Cupertino is now focusing on the variety show, which he hopes will boost UT to first place.
“Right now we’re in third place, so it’s pretty exciting,” Cupertino said.
Sig Ep has received about $4,200 in donations so far, but they have until April 10 to fundraise. Last year, UVM raised $30,000. Cupertino hopes to raise a majority of the funds through donations from colleagues and UT students, “because everybody is affected by Alzheimer’s in some way.”
Cupertino hopes the variety show will spread the word about HFC U on campus and generate donations.
“It’s to have us raise money and have fun with it, but it’s also to get us out there a little more,” Cupertino said. “We’ll have a month after that to continue raising money.”
Members of Sig Ep will also be talking to local businesses and possibly UT alumni to see if they would like to be involved with the competition, whether by donating or by promoting the cause.
So far, four teams have signed up for the variety show. Jeffrey Prahl, freshman accounting major and Greek Relations chair for Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE), said he first heard about HFC U when Cupertino pitched his idea at a Student Government meeting. He then brought the idea to his fraternity to encourage other members to sign up for the variety show.
“All the money goes toward the Alzheimer’s Association, which is one of our philanthropies, so that’s why we really wanted to get into it,” Prahl said. “It’s for a good cause.”
TKE member Mitchell McCurnin, a freshman cyber security major, will be performing one of his original rap songs in the variety show.
“I think it’s a fun way to raise money for charity,” McCurnin said. “It’ll be cool to see the wide variety of acts, knowing that we’re all here to do good and have fun.”
Members of Delta Zeta (DZ) will also be performing, as well as other members of the UT community. Students can still sign up to participate, but the deadline is on Sunday, so Cupertino encourages people to sign up soon.
“I think it’s a great great way to raise money for Alzheimer’s,” sophomore international business and management major Carla Shapira said. “I’m just really excited for this. I think it’ll be a great opportunity to get girls more involved.”
Shapira will be organizing one or two groups from DZ to participate in the show, and she encourages people from other organizations to attend or join the competition.
“Come knowing that you’ve done something more and you’ve helped fund a cause that has touched the lives of so many,” Shapira said. “You’ll have fun and you’ll leave with pride knowing you could potentially affect a family and their loved ones.”
Cupertino hopes the variety show will bring in more donations for the UT team. Tickets will be sold for $7 at the door and the group registration fee is $35.
Even if his team doesn’t come in first place, Cupertino sees a bright future for the HFC U competition at UT.
“We’re in third place and this is only our first year doing it,” Cupertino said. “So imagine if we keep it going and it’s more public, more people know about it year after year. I think we could definitely win it.”
To participate in the variety show, register at crowdrise.com/universityoftampaqoh.