Kappa Sigma’s ‘Run to Victory’ aims to raise $20,000 for Navy SEALs


Brothers of Kappa Sigma, Alpha Beta chapter

Nicholas Wooten, Managing Editor

This band of brothers isn’t crossing a hail of bullets like the Scouts and Raiders on the sands of Salerno. But the Alpha Beta and Lambda Xi chapters of Kappa Sigma are on a mission of their own.

In mile segments, the men will run a football from Milledgeville to Five Star Stadium in Macon for the Bears’ first home football game.

The succession of hand offs between brothers goes beyond an affinity for the gridiron. The goal: raise $20,000 for the SEAL Legacy Foundation, an organization which provides services for Navy SEALs and their families.

“I couldn’t think of anything better to give back to than America’s most elite warriors and their families,” said Barrett Stanley, a member of Kappa Sigma at Georgia College and State University, in an e-mail.

The event falls under the banner of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity Military Heroes Campaign, which was established in 2007 — a cause the fraternity is now known for, said John Niesen, a member of the Mercer chapter.

Niesen was inspired while on a trip to the 70th Biennium Grand Conclave in Las Vegas this summer. There Niesen met Cmdr. Mark McGinnis. McGinnis, who heads up the SEAL Legacy Foundation, was involved in fundraising events the previous year with other chapters of the fraternity. For his efforts, McGinnis was made an honorary member of the fraternity, Niesen said.

Niesen found further inspiration from Phillip Bell and Barrett Stanley.

Bell, a Georgia College and State University graduate and former  Kappa Sigma, told Niesen that Mercer had partnered with the Lambda Xi chapter at Georgia College for a football run before. The Bears reinstituted their football team in the Fall of 2013, so it made sense to bring the run back, Niesen said. Stanley agreed.

“[The three of us] got together and just decided why can’t we do something like that?” Niesen said.

The group began to approach prominent figures and sponsors.

Mercer University Athletic Director Jim Cole, a close friend of Bell, agreed to partner with Kappa Sigma for the event. State Farm agreed to be a sponsor. The fraternity is still working to secure other important sponsors, such as Cox Communications and Ortho Georgia.

After talking with Phillip Hetu at the SEAL Foundation, an e-mail went out to members of the chapter that the Run to Victory event was given its own page and logo. Kappa Sigma will also be able to direct all online payments through the foundation software, meaning each dollar donated will go directly to the foundation.

Logistics are also key. The group has partnered with law enforcement to coordinate the running of the football to ensure the safety of the runners. There are 47 brothers in the Georgia College chapter. The Mercer chapter is much smaller with 23 brothers.

Niesen has members in mind for the Mercer segments of the run, but nothing has been finalized.

“Depending on if we need runners, we may ask some of our pledges to get involved,” Niesen said.

Once the ball arrives in Macon, Niesen and company have worked closely with Athletic Director Cole to fill the pre-game ceremonies.

Kappa Sigma undergraduate brothers will present the American flag and a check to SEAL Legacy Foundation. Members of the administration and community leaders are expected to attend. Niesen said plans are in the works to get a former governor and brother of Kappa Sigma to attend the event.

The event has raised $7,680 as of Sept. 6. The two chapters hope this year’s run from Milledgeville to Macon won’t be the last.

“When we were presented this idea as a philanthropy event, we decided to take it on in hopes that it wouldn’t just be for this year but be an annual event,” Stanley said. “I believe along with John that the number one goal of a fraternity is not having a good time, but instead, it is teaching the value of giving back.”