Alpha Omicron Pi starts war to fight arthritis
TNE Editor
/ Categories: Feature, Greek Life

Alpha Omicron Pi starts war to fight arthritis

Published 01/30/18

Tabby Talbot

TNE Writer

Greek organizations are often known for the social aspect they offer, as well as the friendships and events they put on. In addition to the social aspect, each Greek organization is dedicated to their own cause through philanthropy.

“Philanthropy means a great deal to all Greek organizations,” said Felicia Smetana, Panhellenic philanthropy chair. “It is our way of giving back, and we all care deeply about our philanthropies. To me, philanthropy is a way to give back to those who need it most.”

One organization is showing what their philanthropy means to them through their annual Penny Wars event. Alpha Omicron Pi’s philanthropy is dedicated to arthritis research and education through support of the Arthritis Foundation. The Arthritis Foundation works to find a cure for arthritis and raise awareness for the wide demographic it affects.

“AOII has been paired with the Arthritis Foundation since 1967,” said Peyton Turner, AOII chapter president. “Arthritis is among the five costliest disorders among adults 18 and older.”

Arthritis is an autoimmune disease with no cure. It causes inflammation of one or more joints, causing pain and stiffness that can worsen with age. Arthritis is thought of by many as an elderly disease, but it affects people of all ages, including members of AOII’s chapter.

Abigail Zimmerman, AOII philanthropy chair, was diagnosed with arthritis when she was 8 years old.   

“The arthritis foundation has always meant so much to me and helped with my decision to join AOII,” said Zimmerman. “Nearly 40 million people in the United States are affected by arthritis, including over a quarter million children.”

As philanthropy, chair Zimmerman is in charge of the fundraising events put on by her chapter to help raise research money for the very disease she is affected by.  Zimmerman and Turner’s goal is to raise several hundred dollars for their organization’s cause and get Greek life involved at the same time.

Each Greek organization will have a bucket dedicated to their chapter. Whether a part of Greek life or not, students are encouraged to come drop pennies into their favorite organization’s bucket and any silver change or paper dollar they may have into another organization’s bucket. Pennies are worth one point and silver coins are worth negative points based on that coin’s value. A dollar is worth negative 100 points. To win Penny Wars, chapters will put the more valuable money into their opponents bucket to reduce that chapter’s score.

“This event has been popular in the past and some people really get into it,” said Turner. “I once saw a group of fraternity men go to the bank and get a $25 box of pennies and donate it. That thing weighed so much, but we loved it because they really went above and beyond to participate.”

The winning chapter will receive $100 to be donated to their organization’s own philanthropy. Alpha Omicron Pi as a chapter will decide where exactly the money they raise will go.

“We have donated money from our events to many different places,” said Turner. “We have helped an alumna member whose child was hurt in a car accident. We got a thank you letter from her family. That was very sweet.”

AOII will have a table from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 in the University Center lobby with buckets for the Greek organizations.

For more information about Penny Wars, email Zimmerman at

For more information about the Arthritis Foundation, visit the arthritis website at

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