Competition brings money, unity

Their home runs would not remind anyone of FAMU baseball legends and major leaguers Andre Dawson and Marquis Grissom. After all, it was a softball field.

Their home runs did, however, remind nearly a dozen Greek organizations of the importance of giving back to the black community.

Thursday night nearly three-dozen students, including one lanky sportswriter, donated $15 to participate in a home run derby to raise money for juvenile diabetes. Coca-Cola sponsored the event in partnership with Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity Inc.

“In the first year I didn’t expect this many organizations to participate,” said Doug Franklin, co-coordinator of the event and member of Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity Inc. “(Our) goal was $30 an organization, (we) ended up raising close to $50 an organization.”

Between the longballs-which I found out chicks do dig-members of Greek, service and social organizations enjoyed all the hot dogs and soda imaginable.

“(The event is a) way for Coke to give back to the community and FAMU organizations to get involved,” said the senior business management student from Houston-ironically the sight of the 2004 Major League Baseball home run derby.

Unlike the All-Stars who competed in Houston, a majority of the competitors found it difficult to lift a ball over the seemingly short fence. After all, it was a softball field.

Only 15 of the nearly three-dozen male competitors, including one lanky sportswriter, were able to hit one out.

Nevertheless, the success of the “sluggers” was not what was important on that particular night.

“We felt this was a good time to show our appreciation for the work (Co-Coordinator Belinthia Berry) put in over the year…plus it’s fun,” said Rojae Charity, a graduate student from Jacksonville and member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

Charity could say that, because he won the derby with blasts that would have made a couple members of the FAMU baseball team envious.

Something that could be expected from someone who won.

“I do have people I know who have diabetes. (Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.) participates in a lot of community service. We don’t feel that community involvement is something we need to do, but something we have to,” Charity said.

What Charity, and any other Greek member at the derby, had to do on Thursday was be cordial to members of other Greek organizations following a week in which social fraternity plots were vandalized.

“We felt it was our duty to show that everyone can get along to show that we can stand strong with each other,” Charity said.

This was quite evident as Charity and other Greeks conversed with other organizations and shared a few jokes.

Another thing the Greeks shared was a passion for raising money for Juvenile Diabetes.

Dextrix Demps, Coca-Cola youth manager, was pleased with the amount of money raised as well as the 50 people in attendance for the inaugural derby.

“It’s our way of tying the community, Florida A&M and Coca-Cola for a good cause,” Demps said. “We think it has the opportunity to grow every year.”

Demps expects the event to attract $1,000 in diabetes research next year, nearly twice as much as Thursday’s estimated donation.

“I think we’ll have some repeat competitors who will bring their friends,” Demps said.

I think so too.

Will Brown is a junior newspaper journalism student from Rockledge. He is the sports editor of The Famuan. Contact him at