Hundreds of students gathered at the Sigma Chi fraternity house Sunday for a volleyball tournament to help raise money for Mike Bakutes, a brother that was diagnosed with Juvenile Ossifying Fibroma, a rare and aggressive tumor, this summer.
The fraternity was notified via e-mail this June that their brother would be on medical leave for the semester in order to go through a series of rigorous surgeries. As soon as the word was out two of Bakutes’ fraternity brothers, Jeremy Turim and Gabe Adelman, began planning the fundraiser.
The boys contacted parents, local businesses, and all of Bakutes’ friends inside and out of Greek life.
“Mike has friends in other fraternities and from all over campus,” Turim said. “We wanted to make sure we went beyond Greek life and made this a campus wide event.”
The boys were successful. The Sigma Chi house was overflowing with members of every fraternity and sorority on campus, unaffiliated students, parents and even some dogs. Over 50 six-member volleyball teams participated and lots of other supporters came to watch.
Miles and Shari Barish, Bakutes’ grandparents, traveled from Delray Beach to attend the event. Shari Barish or “nanny” as Bakutes calls her, is no stranger to illness. A survivor of breast cancer herself, she admitted that she cried a lot when she heard the news in June.
Shari Barish traveled to New York to be with her grandson through his surgery. The procedure required doctors to remove ten of his teeth and most of his lower jaw, they also had to insert a metal plate in his lip and wire his jaw which doesn’t allow him to eat solid food.
“We are so proud of him,” Shari Barish said. “He is in such good spirits and keeps telling us all to stay positive. His biggest complaint is that he is hungry.”
Bakutes’ is described by all his friends as an outgoing guy who is friendly with everyone. The outpouring of support by his peers confirms how likable Bakutes is in the Miami community.
“We have totally exceeded our expectations. We raised over $4,000 coming into the day,” said Adelman, who was planning on living with Bakutes this semester.
In addition to donations and the $30 entry fee for each volleyball team, Nick Rodriguez, another Sigma Chi brother, created and sold 200 black t-shirts that read “Spike for Mike 2010” in neon pink print. Rodriguez used the pink print to show support for the Susan G. Komen foundation. Mike and his family will donate half of all the money raised to the foundation for breast cancer and will use the other half to help with medical bills.
“We all just want to help in any way possible,” Rodriguez said. “I went with a few friends to see Mike in New York before his surgery and all he could talk about was coming back to Miami for the spring semester.
Ali Kitenplon may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.