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And they're off . . . Sigma Chi's annual Derby Days sprints out of the starting gate today with the banner competition, the first in a week-long schedule of competitions among the University's eight sororities, the Tabard Society, the women's crew team, the women's soccer team and the women's gymnastic team. Beginning at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1930s, Derby Days has become a tradition among Sigma Chi chapters nationally. Derby Days raised thousands of dollars last year and hopes are high that this year will be even more successful. "We raised approximately $4500 and this year we plan to raise in excess of that," said College senior and Sigma Chi brother Jason Weisstein, the organizer of the event, who is traditionally known as "Derby Daddy." "I'm hoping it will be the preeminent philanthropy event this year," he added. All money raised in this week's competition will benefit the Children's Crisis Treatment Center, a center for emotionally disturbed and physically disabled children in Center City. Weisstein said the money raised by each team is donated to the center in that team's name. "Dubious Deeds," where team members play practical jokes on Sigma Chi brothers and pledges for points, will take place all week, as will the Derby Days raffle. On Tuesday, two representatives from each team will visit the crisis center. Each team's creativity will be spotlighted on Wednesday. Teams are asked to dress up a Sigma Chi brother or a pledge as whatever they want. Last year, one team created the "Safe Sex Fairy," who sprinkled condoms rather than fairy dust. Skits will also be performed on Wednesday night. A scavenger hunt and party at the Barley and Hops restaurant will take place Thursday, and casino night is scheduled for Friday night. Saturday's finale will be the field events. Teams will compete in a volleyball tournament, a mummifying contest -- a race involving wrapping up a team member in toilet paper -- and an egg-drop competition. Points are awarded for each of the individual events and the team with the most points at the end of the week will be awarded the Derby Days trophy, which has been captured by Alpha Phi for the last five years. "It's a good cause." said Wharton senior Kristin Collodi, captain of the Kappa Delta sorority team. "It's a lot of fun. It's good to get involved with other Greek organizations to help them out." "It's a great way to raise money for a really good charity," said Wharton sophomore Lainie Reisman, captain of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority team.

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