Greek casino night raises money for charity

Over 350 students tried their luck this Thursday at the Casino Royale event hosted by the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. The event was held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the O’Hara Student Center Ballroom.

Students at the event weren’t gambling for money. Instead, they gambled for tickets. The tickets won during the evening in games such as blackjack and poker were then placed in a raffle for several prizes.

Gift certificates to local businesses including The Cheesecake Factory, Starbucks and Sephora were featured as potential prizes for the raffle winners.

Sarah Ackerman, an Alpha Delta Pi sister, organized the event and said that Casino Royale raised at least $1,500 from ticket sales alone. Tickets were sold for $5 per person.

All proceeds from the event were donated to the Ronald McDonald House of Pittsburgh, a charity organization that provides housing for families with sick children. 

Nicole Sperduto, the outreach coordinator for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh, said that money raised from third-party events, such as Casino Royale night, goes toward the Jacob Johnson Fund within the organization.

The Jacob Johnson Fund pays for families to stay for free at the Ronald McDonald house if families can’t afford to pay the usual $15-per-night fee. 

“No family is ever turned away if they cannot pay,” said Sperduto.

Sperduto said that members from Alpha Delta Pi have been coming to the Ronald McDonald House of Pittsburgh to volunteer in several projects on a regular basis. The girls often cook, bake and clean for the families staying at the House. They also coordinate holiday activities for the families in residence.

Alpha Delta Pi has raised over $5,000 for the Ronald McDonald House since 2005.

“They are a wonderful partner to the House, and we greatly appreciate their amazing work,” said Sperduto.

The event was sponsored by Elite Casino Events, a company that provides casino tables, card dealers and other gaming equipment for corporate events, private parties and charity events such as the Casino Royale event. 

Dawn Takacs, founder and CEO of Elite Casino Events, said that Ackerman had contacted her about the event and that one of the main reasons she agreed to sponsor Casino Royale was because of its connection with the Ronald McDonald House.

“What [Ronald McDonald House] does is amazing,” said Takacs. “They are there for families in crisis and for people going through the most difficult challenges. 

The Ronald McDonald House of Pittsburgh has been providing a home for families with sick children since it opened in 1979.

“Sarah Ackerman from Alpha Delta Pi was a key element in our decision to step in and sponsor the event. She is just as passionate about the cause as we are,” said Takacs.

Performances by the Pitt Men’s Glee Club and the Pitt Jazz Ensemble took place at the event.

Joshua Loebig, vice president of the Pitt Men’s Glee Club, said that the club has been looking for more ways to become involved with charity events, as well as events with other organizations at Pitt.

“During our early meeting this year, our group discussed becoming more involved in some philanthropic events around Pittsburgh,” said Loebig. “With an 80-plus member group, we definitely have the equipment to do some good in the community.”

The Pitt Men’s Glee Club performed selections from their fall repertoire. In preparation for the performance, the Glee Club added rehearsal time for members performing at the Casino Royale event. 

Victor Bench, president of the Pitt Men’s Glee Club and a brother in the Delta Chi fraternity at Pitt, also said that he hopes the Casino Royale event will be one of many that the Glee Club participates in.

“I hope this initial introduction will foster further performances at Greek Life events, through both the Pan-Hellenic Council and the [Interfraternity Council],” said Bench. “I confidently anticipate an increased Greek Life presence at Glee Club functions.”