On Sept. 25, 2023, brothers from the Delta-Beta Chapter of Sigma Pi Fraternity at Monmouth University hosted and competed in a lift-a-thon to raise money in support of mental health organizations in the Monmouth County area. Ishyne Woodard, a senior marketing student won the competition overall.
Woodard lifted approximately 1,295 pounds between a 425 squat, 370 bench press, and 500 deadlifts. “Coming into the event I wasn’t nervous at all. The event is designed to be a good time and to raise money for men’s mental health so there was no pressure from anyone to perform but just for everyone to have a great time,” Woodard said.
Woodard was confident going into the event. Last year when the Sigma Pi Fraternity hosted the lift-a-thon, he came in second, which gave him the motivation to push himself this year to achieve first place.
“If I am being honest, I did expect to win the overall event. Last year when we did the event, I ended up losing by 5 pounds coming in second place and that was something that pushed me to go even harder this year and I was lucky enough to beat the overall record by 20 pounds!” he explained.
Though Woodard likes to keep in shape and enjoys participating in the lift-a-thon to raise money for different organizations and to defend his new title, competing isn’t something he is very interested in.
“Me personally I don’t think I will compete in any other lifting events,” he said. “I do like to keep in shape and I’m always in the gym trying to get stronger and fitter, but competitions like that isn’t something that I’m super interested in. But I will come back next year to compete in the lift-a-thon event again to continue raising money and to defend my title.”
Joe Palazzolo, Ed.D., Lecturer in the Department of Management and Leadership, and former president of Sigma Pi at Monmouth from 2001-2002, said, “This is a very upbeat event. The brothers all enjoy lifting weights together and the fact that this event exists to support the fraternity’s philanthropic cause adds more energy to the day.”
Palazzolo added that the event was hosted by Rocks Sports Club in Tinton Falls where during the event, pop, rock, and rap music could be heard while the brothers were competing against one another. He also explained that the event is exclusive to Sigma Pi brothers, but that the Fraternity is considering opening up next year’s lift-a-thon event to other members of the Monmouth University community.
Palazzolo said, “Only Sigma Pi brothers participated in this event. Fraternity and sorority chapters usually have a few major events each semester, and sometimes those events are connected to philanthropic causes. For Sigma Pi Fraternity at Monmouth University, each fall their major philanthropic event is this lift-a-thon. The chapter is discussing the possibility of opening up the lift-a-thon next fall so that other members of the university community can participate.”
The event can raise money for any cause but the Sigma Pi Fraternity uses this event for their philanthropic fundraising, which ties back to mental health. Palazzolo further explained, “In addition, our brothers appreciate the connection that Monmouth University has to the larger Monmouth County community. In recognition of our local connections and in recognition of our national fraternity’s focus on college men’s mental health, the chapter selected the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County to be their philanthropic focus for this event.”
Palazzolo goes on to say that this is not the only event that the Sigma Pi Fraternity had to raise money for mental health and that in the spring semester, the fraternity is thinking of having a bigger lift-a-thon event with Phi Sig alumni.
“The lift-a-thon was in September. In October, Sigma Pi hosted its first-ever Sigma Pi Sweetheart where it raised awareness for the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County. There is discussion around having a larger lift-a-thon in the spring that would include alumni Sigma Pi brothers. Whatever may happen with the alumni, the plan is to continue having the undergraduate lift-a-thon every fall semester as a way to showcase the chapter’s commitment to the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County,” Palazzolo added.
“The highlight of the event for me was seeing my brothers come together to raise money for a cause that is so important in today’s society. Being able to lift some weight with your best friends and raise money for men’s mental health is something that is really special for me, and I’ll come back every year until I can’t lift anymore to compete in this event,” Woodard concluded.