Running and dance marathons are common philanthropy events held to raise money for charities. But the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at the University of Missouri stands up to cancer by sitting — or rather by rocking. Since 1969, the MU chapter of AEPi has been holding its Rock-A-Thon philanthropy every other April, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the largest single-chapter Greek philanthropy in the country.

From 7 a.m. on April 4 until 10 p.m. on April 6, an elected upperclassmen will be sitting in a rocking chair for 63 hours on a stage near Eighth Street and Broadway in downtown Columbia while more than 100 remaining fraternity members disperse across mid-Missouri, Kansas City and St. Louis to ask for donations. The money raised will go toward the American Cancer Society.

2017 Rock-A-Thon rocker Adam Bodner (sitting) is joined by co-chair Austin Dubinsky (left standing) and co-chair Adam Pressler (right standing). The Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter at MU has hosted the philanthropy every other April since 1969.

2017 Rock-A-Thon rocker Adam Bodner (sitting) is joined by co-chair Austin Dubinsky (left standing) and co-chair Adam Pressler (right standing). The Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter at MU has hosted the philanthropy every other April since 1969.

The fraternity raised $132,000 in 2015 and $102,000 in 2017. Since the first Rock-A-Thon in 1969, the brothers of AEPi have raised a combined total of more than $900,000 and hope to surpass $1 million in cancer fundraising this spring.

“We all know someone that has been directly affected by cancer,” Rock-A-Thon co-chairman Jordan Bernstein said. “Rock-A-Thon is a reminder of why we should join the fight against cancer, as philanthropy is one of the most important things we do as a brotherhood.”

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, and several factors can affect cancer mortality, including where you live. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rural counties in America have higher death rates from cancer than urban counties. Rural cancer patients are diagnosed at later stages of disease and are at a more advanced stage of illness when referred to home health care agencies, according to the National Library of Medicine.

“I wanted to be the rocker because of all of the family members and friends I know who have had cancer. Losing my Aunt Cecile to lung cancer and one of my best friends to leukemia is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to comprehend, but that’s why I’m ready to sit in that rocking chair and make a difference,” said this year’s rocker, senior Edan Goldfarb. “Being able to do this is just a way for me to do my part in this fight and support the millions of people who have suffered from this disease. I think it is absolutely incredible that for 50 years now the brothers of AEPi have come together to put in countless hours of work for this cause.”

In addition to the three days of rocking and asking for donations, AEPi has been working with various organizations to show support for the local community, including the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, where brothers sang and delivered roses to patients on Valentine’s Day. The fraternity also raised money for Rock-A-Thon through a charity concert on April 2. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the philanthropy, AEPi hosted a gala in St. Louis last month that included dinner, a silent auction and a speech from former Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel.

Learn more about the Rock-A-Thon philanthropy at https://mizzourockathon.com/.