Forward For Frances Memorial Walk, a philanthropy event organized by the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, was held Sunday afternoon. Three hundred participants met at Mitchell Park and together trekked a one and a half mile loop through residential neighborhoods nearby. About 200 of the walkers were part of Cal Poly greek life organizations and the rest were students, faculty, community members and family.
The event was held in the honor of Chang, a student who spent much of her time to doing volunteer work. Organizations she worked with included Woods Humane Society, The Special Olympics, The Irvine Animal Care Center and The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“She was someone who lived her life in a selfless, inspiring manner,” event coordinator and communication studies senior Carrie Peck said. “She spent a lot of her time giving back to the community with the Special Olympics and Woods Humane Society. She made an impact and touched everyone’s life she encountered.”
The goal was to raise as much money as possible for The Frances Chang Seeds of Love Foundation. This foundation, started by Chang’s parents following her death, raises and donates money to all of the charities that Chang supported.
Around $7,000 was raised for the event through the foundation’s Web site and some sorority members’ independent pages. One Gamma Phi Beta member, psychology senior student Riley Arthur, raised $1,120 alone. She asked most of her family and friends for donations and their support was overwhelming.
“I was really close with Frances. Along with that I became really close to Carrie,” Arthur said. “Frances was my inspiration for the whole thing. I just wanted to honor Frances and contribute to everything she contributed to when she was alive.”
Forward for Frances promoted a large group of charity and community organizations. The Special Olympics, Woods humane Society, CASA, Family Care Network, Life Water and Student Community Services all had booths set up at Mitchell Park.
“I think it was a great way for people that knew her to come together for all the good she did,” Peck said. “It made light out of a not so fortunate situation.”
Forward for Frances was a very personal project for Peck, who was Chang’s close friend and big sister in Gamma Phi Beta. The march was also Peck’s senior project for her communication studies degree.
All participants were given matching yellow T-shirts — Chang’s favorite color. Since Chang loved dogs, walkers were encouraged to bring theirs along. The Woods Humane Society brought six dogs that could be “rented” for the walk. Dog renting proceeds were donated to the Frances Chang Seeds of Love Foundation as well.
The walk was such a success that Gamma Phi Beta hopes to make it an annual philanthropy along with G-HOP, a fraternity eating contest. Peck believes the event was very representative of Chang, who had a positive attitude about life and understood the significance of helping others.
“It was inspired because of who Frances was,” Peck said. “It would not have happened if it were not for what she accomplished.”