On Tuesday, Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII) set up a small booth inside Flatbread in Davis Square, selling raffle tickets while the smells of pizza wafted through the air. Pamphlets about various types of arthritis were laid out next to the list of raffle ticket prizes and the fundraising began.
Since 1967, AOII chapters have been working alongside arthritis charities to raise awareness of one of the most debilitating disabilities in America. Tufts University’s own chapter has been a part of the solution, coming up with creative and effective ways to raise awareness and funds to help people suffering with this disease.
Arthritis does not receive ample enough media attention, nor do enough charities exist to help explain and find feasible treatments for the disease, according to some of the sorority’s sisters. This particular issue is especially prevalent when it comes to children’s arthritis. Though the sorority advocates treatment for all variations of arthritis, “Here at [the] Delta chapter, we focus on Juvenile Arthritis because it affects about 300,000 children and there is not a lot of attention given to it,” commented Alpha Omicron Pi philanthropy chair, Amelia M. Cohen. Children are burdened with awful pain, leaving them unable to play and be kids. They suffer from chronic aching and the unwavering knowledge that they might never find relief from it. Though treatment seems to be the most obvious option, children’s arthritis lacks specialists. Because of the shortage of doctors and ever growing number of patients, treatment becomes an almost impossible choice.
Charity events for juvenile arthritis are far and few, but AOII leads an important trend of raising awareness about the disease. With Flatbread’s aid and the knowledge that pizza is a communal favorite, a portion of every pizza sale would go to an organization that supports research for a cure and the search for qualified doctors: $3.50 for a large pizza and $1.75 for a small pizza. “Flatbread was an optimal place because it was a way to reach both the Tufts community and the larger Somerville/Medford community. It was the first year we held an event there and we feel it was a success!” enthused Cohen. Along with pizza sales, raffle tickets were being sold for $1 for one ticket or $5 for six tickets. The prizes included gift certificates to Fire and Ice, Dave’s Fresh Pasta, the Danish Pastry House, Forty Winks, and many other local Medford and Somerville businesses.
Alpha Omicron Pi has used pizza, the collegiate essential, to not only fuel students through another day of classes, but to bring attention to a disease often left in the dark. Throughout the past fifty years of philanthropic work, the collective chapters of the sorority have raised over two million dollars for grants and research. This is no easy feat; especially since arthritis is beginning to garner the attention it deserves and needs more rapidly, hopefully leading to more credible and affordable treatment.