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The Antelope

Poker tournament raises funds for women’s heart health



Alpha Phi members held their annual Red Dress Poker and Pitch Tournament last Thursday. The community came together to raise funds for the Alpha Phi Foundation.

Alpha Phi’s director of philanthropy, Ryley Scherer, was especially pleased with the event’s success. 

“Our turnout this year has been awesome, and we’re so excited to see everybody here and to know that we keep getting bigger and can help more people,” Scherer said.

After months of planning, Alpha Phi held their event at the Health and Sports Center. Participants played as individuals for poker and teams of two for pitch. There was an excellent turnout this year with 120 poker players and 96 pitch players. A large selection of prizes were donated by community businesses, including a gift basket of Husker apparel, four tickets to the Husker spring game, various gift cards, air pods and a smart TV. 

The proceeds for the tournament are going to the Alpha Phi Foundation, which has been funding research and education regarding women’s heart health since 1946. 

Each Alpha Phi Chapter holds an event every year in which the members wear red dresses to symbolize their mission. This year, UNK’s Alpha Phi Chapter raised over $11,000 for the Alpha Phi Foundation. 

“It’s just fun to be able to bring in all the community so this is truly something greater than just our chapter,” Scherer said. 

This was the poker tournament’s 15th year and only the second year since pitch has been incorporated. Scherer said the addition of pitch has helped attract more college students to the event. 

Poker registration began at 4:30 p.m. Throughout most of the event, the tables were full of participants having a blast. Eventually, the poker tournament was narrowed down to three competitive tables. 

In the end, Tony Kesserwani won the poker tournament and the team consisting of Jake Zimbleman and Jake Vanlenningham won the pitch tournament. 

Kesserwani has participated in Alpha Phi’s past tournaments. For some, it was their first time participating in this event, including the runner-up of the poker tournament, Mitch Carlson’s. 

Carlson usually plays for enjoyment and does not take it too seriously. He was available for the Red Dress event was the first time, so he decided to give it a try. 

“The best part is that it’s going to a good cause,” Carlson said. “It is good to know where your money’s going, and we were all having fun around the table. It takes these girls a lot of work to put on an event like this and they do a great job.”

The tournament required much planning and dedication from Alpha Phi, and it was a fun but long night for the group. A member wearing a red dress sat at each table to serve as the dealer for participants.

Scherer was grateful for the support from other organizations.

“We are very fortunate this year to get a little extra help,” Scherer said. 

UNK fraternity and sorority members, as well as the football team and coaches, flocked to Alpha Phi’s aid to set up the many tables and decorations for the event. 

The Alpha Phi Red Dress Poker and Pitch Tournament was a success and will be a continuing tradition for the group. 

The sorority accomplished their mission of raising funds for women’s heart health.

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