In the open space of Armstrong’s East wing, Delta Tau Delta members had set up 12 tables with two plastic plates, two red solo cups and a small stack of napkins each. A table in the middle held the main feature of the event: two metal serving dishes full of hot wings.
The fraternity hosted its first Wing Challenge for Children to raise money for Type 1 Diabetes research. Teams of two pledged $50 each, and the proceeds will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“It’s our national organization for our fraternity, and we’re pretty passionate about it,” organizer and Delta Tau Delta member Will Hoff said.
Will darted around to answer questions and make sure everyone had what they needed as participants meandered in.
While waiting for the official challenge to begin, those who were ready decided to try a few practice wings. Harry Barnwell, a member of Theta Chi, called out to make sure his wing, which was now just bone, was considered fully eaten.
Once each participant sat in front of their wing-piled plate, Will started the timer, and soon everyone was digging in.
The first member of each team had to finish their 10 wings and get them checked before the second member could start in on their 10. The first team to finish all 20 wings would be declared the winner.
Several of the teams had cheerleaders surrounding their tables, taking pictures and shouting encouraging words. The loudest group of supporters, however, seemed to be doing more harm as they forced the girl, attempting to eat as fast as she could, to pause to laugh and avoid spitting chicken bits.
Two teams showed a lot more frenzy than the rest, and it became clear that the competition came down to them.
Stephen Wainz, the first representative for Theta Chi, had orange sauce smeared on his cheeks after no more than a minute in. His strategy was to shove as much chicken meat into his mouth as possible. Harry, Stephen’s partner, had a napkin tucked into the neck of his shirt as a bib, ready to take on his half of the challenge.
“The bib definitely helped,” Harry claimed afterwards. “Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but my performance was certainly enhanced.”
Casey Crow, from the opposing Alpha Sigma Phi team, was hot on their heels as scrapped bones started to pile on one end of his plate.
Harry was able to start in first, as Stephen continued chewing the chicken stuffed in his cheeks, but eventually, Casey and John emerged as the winners. They managed to finish all 20 wings in around seven minutes.
“I don’t know if I’m particularly proud of the fact that I just won, but, hey, it was for a good cause,” Casey said.
Casey tried to credit John with their win as he’s an almost-professional spicy wing eater who does challenges weekly.
“I love spicy wings, so I had to rise to the challenge and represent my fraternity in this prestigious event,” John said.
Even though Casey was an alternate and isn’t as fond of spicy foods (but the wings weren’t too bad, he said), he stepped up and pulled his weight.
“I like wings and I can eat a lot of food, and I haven’t eaten all day…It worked out — I was hungry, I got free dinner and it was for a good cause,” Casey said.
That’s what the participants spoke to the most — how easy it was to give back through this event. Harry and Stephen were happy with second place because they were still raising funds for Diabetes research.
“Win or lose, we’re helping out people who need money more than us,” Stephen said.
And they had fun with it, after he was done choking, Stephen half-jokingly added. But he didn’t regret his eating technique.
“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing,” Stephen said, the sauce stains still visible among his facial hair.
The other teams continued to work on finishing their plates of wings as the different participants mingled and the organizers started clean-up. Stephen let out a loud burp.