Mar 01, 2022 9:00 AM

Read time: 5 minutes


Beta Epsilon chapter philanthropy chair Tim LaFave (front row, standing, third from left) and his Sigma Chi brothers gather outside of their Salt Lake City fraternity house on the University of Utah campus.
Beta Epsilon chapter philanthropy chair Tim LaFave (front row, standing, third from left) and his Sigma Chi brothers gather outside of their Salt Lake City fraternity house on the University of Utah campus.

As an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Utah, Josh Dunn rushed the Sigma Chi Beta Epsilon chapter. His dad was a Sigma Chi, as were both grandfathers, so it was a natural step. At the time, Josh didn’t know much about the philanthropic partnership with Huntsman Cancer Foundation, but he participated in the chapter’s fundraising efforts. Three and a half years later, that effort would hold more significance when Josh was diagnosed with brain cancer.

man smiling at camera
Josh Dunn

At 22, brain cancer was the last thing Josh expected. But as he faced his diagnosis, he found unwavering support in Beta Epsilon. “Something we say in Sigma Chi is ‘strong arms’—there are strong arms around you always, no matter where you are,” Josh says. “That’s rung true.”

Tim LaFave, chapter philanthropy chair, says Josh has been an inspiration and source of motivation to the entire chapter. “That Josh said he knows he has strong arms around him makes me feel good,” Tim says, “because I’m thinking about him all the time.” Beta Epsilon brothers share that sentiment: in May 2021, Sigs helped organize a gathering outside Josh’s hospital room window. About 150 attended, and balloons and signs of love and support dotted the crowd.

As Josh’s story unfolded, Tim heard from many other brothers about loved ones facing cancer. Those personal stories, Tim says, became a driving force behind fundraising for Huntsman Cancer Institute. Jake Paul, former chapter president, has one such personal story. His older brother also had brain cancer and received treatment at Huntsman Cancer Institute. “We believe in the mission of what we are raising money for,” Jake says. “Tim’s leadership and the strong leaders that came before built this culture—a culture of brotherhood, respect, and true friendship.”

Tim’s advice for his Sig brothers when it comes to raising money? Ask for help, and don’t be afraid of rejection. As of January in the 2021- 2022 school year, the Beta Epsilon chapter already broke a record and raised $120,000 in one semester, with a goal to raise $150,000 by June 2022.

“Sigma Chi is such a family-oriented organization. Any sort of joy or sorrow anybody has becomes yours,” Tim says. “It’s like a bond that you just can’t break. It’s what you sign up for when you become a Sig. I want cancer patients to know we are here for them.”

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