Greek basketball tournament raises $1,000 for charity

by Colleen Larson, Staff Writer

Colleen Larson, Staff Writer

Members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Phi Kappa Theta fraternities organized a charity basketball tournament Thursday in honor of former SAE President Barzeen Barzanji.

Barzanji, known to many as BB, died in 2012 from an overdose of prescription medications at a Phi Kappa Theta social event.

The event Thursday raised more than $1,000, all of which will be donated to the winning basketball team’s charity of choice, co-organizer Alex Shapiro said.

Held in the backyard of the SAE house, guests paid a $5 entrance fee for the six-hour event. The fundraiser barbecue included a hot dog eating contest, a three-on-three basketball tournament and an appearance by San Diego State basketball players Malik Pope and Zylan Cheatham.

Many guests said that seeing the two players participate in a “dunk-off” was their favorite part of the whole event.

“We came out here because we wanted to attribute this to BB,” Cheatham said. “I’m sorry that he lost his life, it’s never good when an Aztec goes that early.”

Before the first basketball game started, Senior Kristina Thiel sang the national anthem.

“I was just so honored because I had the pleasure of knowing BB, and I knew that this was an important event for SAE,” she said.

Shapiro and his co-organizer Dylan Colliflower said that they had been planning this event since last school year. They agreed it went well and hope it will attract more people each year.

Former SAE President Dominic Bilotti said Shapiro and Colliflower did a great job of bringing the Greek community together for a good cause.

“The whole community came out here, even non-Greek members, and I think the two who planned it did a great job of bridging those gaps and making sure all Aztecs were included,” Bilotti said.

SDSU alumnus and good friend of the late Barzanji, Cole Mayer, also attended the event. He said that one of Barzanji’s goals as SAE president was to bring together the whole Greek community despite their often-competitive relationships. Mayer said Barzanji would have been happy to see what this event was able to accomplish.

“I think the event is incredible,” Mayer said. “These kids, who never even knew BB directly, are still doing this in his memory and coming together.”