CHICAGO, IL – The annual student-run Midwest Pan-Hellenic Youth Ball, also referred to as the “Greek Prom,” celebrated its 10-year anniversary this February, attracting over 280 young members of the Greek community for a masquerade-themed night of dinner and dancing.
Planned and hosted by local Hellenic student associations, the Pan-Hellenic Youth Ball serves as a fundraiser for both these groups, and a selected charity or cause. Participating universities included Loyola University Chicago, DePaul University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University.
This year, 5,000 dollars were raised in support of Angela Malfas, who was 17 years old when she was injured in a collision outside of St. Spyridon Church in Palos Heights, IL back in 2002. The donation will help cover a portion of her continuing therapy and medical expenses.
“It is nice to choose a family over a giant charity sometimes because you know that it is usually easier for a charity to get donations as opposed to an individual family,” said Jenny Sampras, president of the Hellenic Association at the University of Illinois.
Past charities and individuals that have benefited from the Pan-Hellenic Youth Ball include Theofanis Yianas and family, Asylo Aniaton in Sparti, Greece, and Hollywood House Assisted Living in Chicago. The sold-out event was held at the elegant Stan Mansion, formerly a Masonic Temple built in 1921. Tickets were 55 dollars and included dinner, dessert, an open bar, and music by DJ Pantazis.
“We have been able to keep this tradition going year after year because of the hard work of the planning committee and the tightknit Greek community in Chicago,” said Connie Leberis, Loyola University Hellenic Student Association president. “The greatest payoff at the end of the night is seeing all of the guests having a great time, and knowing that the proceeds from the event will go to a charitable cause,” she added.
The Pan-Hellenic Youth Ball not only serves as a fundraiser and social event, but as a driving force connecting Chicago’s Hellenic student associations. Planning for the event begins well in advance, with meetings and collaboration on several aspects of the night including marketing, venue, music, decor, and dinner arrangements.
“The PHYB allows young Greeks in the Chicagoland area to showcase what they are passionate about…philanthropy, fellowship, and community,” said Connie Savas, vice president of the Hellenic Student Association at Loyola University Chicago. “Every year, we successfully raise thousands of dollars for a charity we hold close to our hearts in just one night, all while doing what Greeks do best, eating and dancing!” she added.
The annual tradition was started by a group of students in 2004 as an effort to address the lack of a formal community event for students of Greek descent in the Midwest.
“I never really understood why Greek people always want to organize Greek clubs, but they do, and when they do they want big,” said Constantine Flevaris, one of the original founders of the Pan-Hellenic Youth Ball. “The energy of young people can be corralled to do great things since young people have the time, the energy, and the idealism to accomplish things of lasting value,” he added.
Currently, the annual Youth Ball serves as the largest single event of the year for student-aged Greek youth.
“There’s nothing else that I know of where college-aged Greeks can come together and connect, or reconnect,” said Peri Stangas, secretary of Loyola University’s Hellenic Student Association.
With yet another successful fundraiser behind them, the planning committee’s preparation for the 2015 Youth Ball will soon commence, as the tradition continues.
“After 10 years, Youth Ball is going strong and growing each year. I’d like to think that in the far future, it will still be a huge event for Greek college students in Chicago to attend,” Sampras said.