Over 260 miles separate Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium and Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. Rather than drive to this weekend’s Badger football game in Minnesota, members of the Wisconsin chapter of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, otherwise known as FIJI, decided they would rather run.
Yes, you read that correctly, run.
About 25 members of the fraternity will combine to run more than 160 miles to Winona, Minn., as part of their philanthropy this year, which will benefit the Disaster Relief Fund of the American Red Cross. A Badger football game ball that was presented to the frat by head coach Bret Bielema will accompany the fraternity members on their journey to Minnesota.
“I think it’s great what they’re doing,” Bielema said. “They’ve challenged themselves physically and it’s going for a great cause. Anything we can do to benefit the American Red Cross and the Disaster Relief Fund across the country is a good thing.”
The fraternity has a rotation system down so not everyone is running the complete 160-mile journey. The relay begins in Madison and about four or five cars will make the trip. Each member from one car will run a few miles before the next car takes over until they arrive in Winona. They will run Route 14 to 35 and once they get to Winona, the Minnesota chapter of Phi Gamma Delta takes the game ball and runs the remaining 100 miles to Minneapolis. The fraternity members noted that they also plan to run with a replica of the Paul Bunyan Axe, but once they meet the Minnesota chapter, they’re not handing that over.
“We co-act together as a conference to accomplish good things, they’re doing it as a fraternity to draw attention to a cause and be able to benefit people so it’s a great statement,” Bielema said. “I’m sure there will be some rivalry along the way when they make the exchange, but it will be a good exchange as well.”
So aside from raising money for the American Red Cross, what is the Wisconsin chapter of Phi Gamma Delta trying to prove?
“That the Badgers fan run farther, harder and longer than the Gophers can,” fraternity president William Buecksler said. “It’s a little rivalry we have going between the two states so it should be a fun time.”