The Iota Theta Chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi hosted their annual philanthropy event, Strike Out Arthritis, on Saturday, Oct. 9. The event, which took place on Hesse Field, was organized by Gabrielle Storino, who serves as the chapter’s Vice President of Philanthropy.
Storino, a junior biology student, ran for the position last fall in the midst of COVID-19. She said, “Running for a position during COVID was stressful in the fact that everything was so uncertain and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to handle a position on top of the stress of COVID.”
However, Storino’s connection to the sorority’s national philanthropy, The Arthritis Foundation, is what motivated her to stick to it. She explained, “My brother actually was diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis when he was 19, and that is a severe form of Arthritis. Watching him go through what he had to go through inspired me to have a small part to play in supporting anything that has to do with Arthritis.”
With her brother’s condition in mind, Storino made it her goal to share with the community that Arthritis can affect anyone at any age. She said, “It’s not just a disease that an older person can get.”
In addition to raising awareness, Storino had a goal of raising money for The Arthritis Foundation to help fund research and help the families of over 54 million Americans who suffer from the condition. To do this, Storino planned the organization’s annual event, Strike Out Arthritis. She explained that this event is usually held in the spring, but was postponed until the fall due to COVID. She said, “We really wanted Strike Out to be as successful as possible.”
Storino shared that some of the planning that went into making the event possible included reaching out to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to make sure that Greek organizations across campus attended to show their support, reserving the field for the kickball tournament, and setting up the fundraising platform where donations to the Foundation could be made.
Luckily, Storino was never alone in the process of planning the event. She shouted out her Alpha Omicron Pi sisters and housemates, who she said spent hours tabling for Strike Out Arthritis outside of the Student Center and painting banners and decor.
All of the planning and work that went into Strike Out Arthritis is what made the event such a success. Margaret Abitanto, a senior criminal justice student who serves as Iota Theta’s Chapter President, said, “The event went so well…Gabby is a phenomenal leader and her planning was effortless. I received so much feedback from friends in other organizations and how much they enjoyed the event and the energy was incredible.”
Alex Gerbavsists, a sophomore nursing student who was initiated to the chapter in the spring, said, “The Alpha Omicron Pi Strike Out event was one I will never forget. Not only was it the first in-person Strike Out since COVID-19, but it was my first one as well and I have to say it was such a great day. Gabrielle Storino worked so hard to put together this day and she did such an amazing job. I’m counting down the days until the next Strike Out event!”
What the sisters of Alpha Omicron Pi enjoyed most about the event is that it allowed them to all come together to support a cause that means so much to them. Gerbavsists said, “Philanthropy is very important to me because I am very passionate about helping others and being there for people in need. Although I don’t have any personal connections with Arthritis, I still feel that it is important to understand what people are going through who do suffer from Arthritis. Philanthropy allows me to realize that and give me a chance to give back.”
Abitanto added, “Everyone in this organization has their own reasons as to why they support the Arthritis Foundation and that’s what makes Alpha Omicron Pi so great. We can all come together for our love to support other people and our philanthropy and raise money for different personal reasons, whether that may be a sister’s grandparent, parent, sibling, or themselves.”
Through the event and their continuing fundraising efforts, Alpha Omicron Pi has been able to raise over $2,000 for The Arthritis Foundation. However, Storino noted that their job is far from over, as those who wish to donate can do so until Friday, Oct. 15.
For more information on Alpha Omicron Pi, check out their Instagram @aoii_mu. To learn more about Arthritis, visit arthritis.org.