UT students raise funds, awareness for SXSW crash victims

Roy Cathey

Austin suffered a tragic blow this spring break after a drunk driver at South By Southwest left two people dead and 23 people — including himself — injured early Thursday morning. News of the crash quickly spread through the UT community, inspiring students to take action.

UT’s chapter of the Sigma Pi fraternity started taking donations soon after the incident, becoming one of the first organizations to raise money for the victims of the crash, according to David Maly, economics and journalism senior and the philanthropy chair for Sigma Pi. Maly said he posted on his fraternity’s Facebook group in the morning and people were on board.

“We think it’s a really important cause that’s really close to home for us,” said Maly, who formerly worked at The Daily Texan.

It was when he tried contacting SXSW about his fundraiser that he found out about SXSW Cares, a fund created by SXSW and venues such as the Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlie’s. 

“We started this before anybody else really had anything going, and then, after they made that fund, it seemed like a good way to give it to the people,” Maly said. “We have the online effort and we’re going to try and table and reach out to local businesses. If anyone comes up with any other ideas, we’ll definitely explore them.”

All the money raised by the Sigma Pi fraternity will be donated to SXSW Cares, adding even more to the $75,000 SXSW Cares received in its first 24 hours of operation. As of Sunday night, Sigma Pi had raised almost $400 through an online campaign on gofundme.com.

The relief effort is not exclusive to raising money. After the incident, the hospital received an influx of patients, putting blood donations in high demand. With blood drives happening frequently on campus, Sigma Pi didn’t have to look far for an appropriately timed event. The Dean’s Scholars Honors Program holds an annual blood drive called Give Blood Give Life.

Alice Tong, biochemistry and chemical engineering senior and the organizer of Give Blood Give Life, partnered with Maly to dedicate the blood drive to the victims of the crash.

“Our organization has a blood drive every year around this time, so this had already been in the plans for months,” Tong said. “After the accident happened, especially after [Maly] contacted us, we realized it would have a greater impact, and we would be able to reach more people if we teamed up with him and his organization.”

The Dean’s Scholars’ Give Blood Give Life event will be held Tuesday at the Speedway Plaza in front of the Student Activity Center.

“Regardless, it’s for a good cause, but, after the crash, it’s more important than ever for the blood banks to be restocked,” Tong said.

Maly said he was glad Sigma Pi could help.

“This happened about a mile away from where we go to school, and these people were just walking down the street,” Maly said. “I’m glad that we could do something to help and [that] we’re just going to keep trying to do what we can.”