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Big Man on Campus Raises Breast Cancer Awareness

A photo of the Big man on campus Philanthropy event flyer.

Philanthropy is one of the core tenets of Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life at Purdue. Annually, Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) hosts Purdue’s largest philanthropic event: Big Man on Campus (BMOC). Big Man on Campus is a male talent show where contestants from the FSCL community compete to raise funds for breast cancer awareness and education. The event is part of a national movement to raise funds and awareness and requires a significant amount of planning and preparation.

“Every member in our house is so passionate about this and that’s what makes Zeta different,” says Joley Clodfelter, a senior studying natural resources and environmental science and the co-executive director of BMOC. “I joined Zeta Tau Alpha in the spring of my freshman year because I saw what they were doing for breast cancer. My mom had just finished one of her surgeries for breast cancer and I really wanted to be involved.”BMOC-stagemembers.jpg

Contestants from the FSCL community fundraise and showcase their talents at BMOC. The winner is awarded based on fundraising, participation and representing the BMOC spirit. All funds raised from contestants and the event support ZTAs national partnership with Think Pink, the American Cancer Society and the National Football League. This year's event raised $170,235.85. Since the event’s beginnings, Zeta Tau Alpha has raised well over one million dollars.

One of the more moving moments from the night was when survivors were honored at the start of the show. Women who survived breast cancer walked across the stage to be recognized and shine a light on how prevalent the issue is and how closely it hits to home.

“I think it all starts with us being women,” says Emma Lamble, senior studying general management and co-executive director for BMOC. “One in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer and with ZTA having 150 girls, some of us will eventually have breast cancer. This issue impacts women all over the world.”

Many sisters in the sorority have their own personal connections to breast cancer, whether that be knowing survivors or having lost important women in their lives to breast cancer.


All of the women at ZTA have been empowered to participate in the planning of BMOC, many starting their journey in leadership roles as first-year students working to execute the event.

Lamble explains, “I’ve been involved in organizing BMOC on campus all four years. Zeta promotes philanthropy as an excellent opportunity to have freshman involved in leadership right away.”

During her first two years on campus Lamble served as a general member, helping where things were needed and carrying out assigned tasks. Her junior year, Lamble served as a survivor relations chairman. As survivor relations chairman, Lamble was a liaison between Zeta and survivors and maintained connections to honor survivors. This year, Lamble is serving as the co-executive director for BMOC alongside Clodfelter.

 “We are actively working towards breast cancer prevention at Zeta Tau Alpha,” Lamble says.

“Prevention starts with awareness,” Clodfelter expands, “Knowing your body and being able to identify when things are abnormal is so important. Early detection is important, educating people about mammograms and self-check breast exams can make a big difference.”

Though the importance of raising awareness of breast cancer is understood, some are curious as to why a male talent show is relevant for such a significant women’s issue.

 “We always talk about how breast cancer effects women but when someone is diagnosed it impacts the entire family,” Lamble explains. “A lot of our contestants have connections and opening up that conversation to everyone is why we open up the male talent show to everyone.”

An extreme amount of care and dedication goes into planning BMOC and it requires the collaboration of over 100 people for the event to succeed. All women from Zeta Tau Alpha are involved in its planning. The 20 participating contestants, survivors of breast cancer and the Elliot Hall of Music staff all collaborate to ensure the event’s execution. This year, 33 fraternities and 19 sororities competed to raise funds in order to be crowned Big Man on Campus.

Planning, obtaining waivers, safety, promotion and making the event fun are the main categories of event planning. There is a high level of creativity that goes into the implementation of an event to this scale as well as the marketing necessary for the event to bring people together and make sure they have fun.

The event is such a huge phenomenon that connects people from across campus.


“I had a stranger approach me once after seeing my ZTA breast cancer awareness ribbon and they asked me if we were hosting Big Man on Campus this year,” Lamble says. “It is definitely an event to remember that has the potential to connect so many people.”

“We also had so many messages from after the show expressing how moving it was seeing us hit the record amount of money we raised,” Clodfelter adds. “We put in this work all year round but that’s what we do it for- knowing we make a difference. That’s the most rewarding part.”

There are many reasons students and staff at Purdue are encouraged to attend Big Man on Campus. Lamble discusses why everyone available should come out to support breast cancer awareness through BMOC annually.

“It’s just so fun,” Lamble emphasizes. “Right when you walk into Elliot, we have it all decorated and the atmosphere is so powerful. You really see all of the hard work everyone has put into this entire year. It’s a great recap of the year and the talent that the boys do are amazing. There’s also this incredible aspect of coming together for the breast cancer community. It’s a great event that I wish everyone could come to.”


Speaking to this year’s BMOC significance, members working this year not only honored survivors, but also strived to honor Abigail Cox, one of their sisters who passed away over the summer.

“This past summer we lost one of our sisters, Abigail Cox,” Lamble says. “This year, there was another layer to this event - we really wanted to make her proud with BMOC. She always loved helping plan BMOC, so we looked toward her memory and wanted to do everything we can to make her proud.”

Big Man on Campus is an impactful event that touches the hearts of many. It is another example of Boilermaker excellence and the extent to which students can touch the hearts of the community and help make the world a better place.