Alpha Phi raises money for heart health at annual philanthropy event

A member of Alpha Phi presents a basket Saturday to a Red Dress Gala attendee at the Duke Ellington Ballroom in the Holmes Student Center. 

DeKALB — A sea of red dresses and ribbons covered the Duke Ellington Ballroom in the Holmes Student Center for the annual Red Dress Gala, hosted by Alpha Phi’s Epsilon Delta chapter.

The event was held from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday and saw current members of the sorority, Alpha Phi alumnae and community members celebrating Alpha Phi’s 50-year anniversary at NIU.

The Red Dress Gala is an annual event hosted to raise money for the Alpha Phi Foundation, Shelly Liston, the chapter adviser for Alpha Phi, said. Every year, the foundation presents funds for the advancement of women’s heart health and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate members of the nationwide Alpha Phi sorority.

The evening began with a presentation by Alpha Phi member Olivia Tyrrell, who explained why heart health is so important to the members of Alpha Phi and to her. Tyrrell lives with Type 1 Long QT syndrome, which causes an irregular heartbeat that can result in seizures and even death. However, Tyrrell doesn’t feel limited by her condition.

“I choose to live life to the fullest,” Tyrrell said.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, Alpha Phi chapters across the nation raised nearly $300,000 for heart health organizations, according to the 2019 Alpha Phi Donor Impact Report.

Funds were raised through a silent auction, a raffle of gift cards and t-shirt sales. Among the prizes were a $100 Target gift card, two tickets to a Chicago Blackhawks’ game and baskets of items picked by chapter members, which had individual themes including wine, a date night and film.

Several items, including the tickets to the Blackhawks game, were donated by alumnae, Maddie Dero, vice president of Community Relations for Alpha Phi, said.

“It means the world that [Epsilon Delta alumnae] are supporting us, and that you’re here helping us raise money for a cause that we all love very dearly,” Dero said.

Besides raising money for the Alpha Phi Foundation, the night also recognized the senior members of Epsilon Delta and highlighted their future plans. Liston and Dero also presented to those in attendance with a plaque commemorating the 50-year anniversary of the Epsilon Delta chapter.

Dero said she was satisfied with the outcome of the event and with all of those who came out to support Epsilon Delta.

“Making this possible was something that was extremely overwhelming and extremely gratifying,” Dero said.

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