Photo by Kendra Klag ’13, The Pioneer
The ninth annual Mr. Whitman Pageant, held in November 2010, raised nearly $46,000 for brain cancer research in honor of a Whitman parent.
"It is a true testament to the way in which this campus bands together and supports each other," said Abigail Neel ’12, a politics major from Seattle and organizer of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority event.
The charity was chosen through an application process. Julie Irvine ’11, whose mother had fought glioblastoma brain cancer since May 2009, proposed that proceeds go to the Chris Elliott Fund (CEF) for Glioblastoma Brain Cancer Research. A series of smaller fundraisers, hosted by campus sororities and fraternities, jumpstarted the fundraising.
The all-male "beauty pageant" showcased the talents of eight senior men, four from fraternities and four independents, as they competed in the categories of formal wear, Q&A, swimwear and talent. But the real spotlight for the evening was on the charity.
Beta Theta Pi member Joe Wheeler ’13, a politics major from Eugene, Oregon, was named Mr. Whitman; he raised more than $7,750. Runner-up was Reed Ferris ’13, a Tau Kappa Epsilon member and history major from Seattle.
"The pageant really made me feel as though I could do something amidst a time of helplessness and struggle," said Irvine, whose mother passed away two weeks after the fundraiser. "I felt as though the whole campus was behind me in the effort, and it was such a fantastic way to honor my mom and the thousands of other families that are familiar with the tragic effects of glioblastoma."
"When I look at an event like Mr. Whitman, it just reinforces the pride I have in Whitman students," said Chuck Cleveland, dean of students. "Greek and independent students alike are extremely involved in philanthropy, raising funds for all kinds of charitable causes on campus and off. It truly speaks to the character of the students that we are attracting, and I think it’s very apparent to me that they are the leaders of the future."