“I am a Chi-Omega. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I am an individual, but recognize I am part of a larger whole. I am proud of my Sisters. We make a difference.”
I am compelled to share a story with you, my Chi-Omega sisters, because of the quote above. This is not my story. It is the story of a tremendous woman, Megan Snyder Ott, (Theta Beta ’96). It is also the story of twenty Chi-Omega sisters who lived with her and knew her fourteen years ago (not that long ago, according to the calendar in my heart).
I hope this story resonates not just with older members, but with new members as well so that on some level you can better appreciate your sisters and the foundation of your sisterhood.
This story begins with Megan Snyder Ott, 34 years old, the mother of two adorable young girls, Katherine 4 and Lauren 2 who just spent her birthday without her mom.
Megan was a wife. A sister. A daughter. A friend. A Chi-Omega.
Megan married Tom Ott, (IU Sigma Chi) and was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant with their second child, the lovely Lauren. From the beginning of her battle she wanted young women to know this is no longer a disease for only our mothers or grandmothers. Megan fought hard for 22 months. During that time, she had a toddler, a newborn, surgery, chemo, and radiation. Yet she also raised money for Susan G. Komen, even while she spent days (even an entire month) at a time in the hospital. She spent a lot of her valuable time fighting for her own life and also helping Susan G. Komen fight this battle for other women too. She even enlisted her friends, which is how I became involved. I wanted to support Megan so I decided to participate in Race for The Cure. I ran my first 5K and raised money on Megan’s behalf. It turns out running was the hard part!
An e-mail suggested we contact 5 people to raise money, so I e-mailed FIVE Chi-Omegas - the only 5 contacts I had through facebook. Two of the five on my list were also Megan's dear friends and they already knew. But, I thought, “I’ll give this a try”. One morning I logged on facebook, wrote a note saying, “donate whatever you want, even one dollar is fine.” Then I went on with my day. I hoped for $200.00. To my complete shock, less than 24 hours later, I had $1600.00 not from five Chi-Omegas but from TWENTY! It worked! Fellow Chi-Omegas I hadn't talked to since graduation (twelve years, if you’re keeping track) donated. Sisters I knew Megan had not talked to for over a decade donated money AND forwarded her story on to other sisters. Not only did I have more money, from many more sisters, but they did not hesitate! Immediately, they read her story, felt compelled not to ‘just donate’ but to share with others who continued to donate. Megan saw the names of all her sisters that donated and she felt their love. It is one of the few times in my life I have felt the impact of a ripple creating a tremendous wave. There is a phrase in Chi-Omega: Friendship is what binds us to each other and to our Fraternity. The friendships we develop in Chi Omega give us a home across geography and generations and give us lasting support throughout our lives. I witnessed the truth of that sentence last April.
As the race came closer, Megan and I both raised more money. I raised over 10 times what I expected, and Megan raised tens of thousands of dollars, while continuing to fight and spend time with her family and her daughters. Sadly, Megan joined the Omega Chapter April 24th, 2010, seven days after the Race for the Cure.
Her mom, her sister, and I were recently at a Pink Honor Roll Dinner where Megan was recognized in memoriam for raising the second highest amount of money in all of Central Indiana for Susan G. Komen Race for The Cure. Chi-Omega helped her do that.
Here is the fascinating thing about all of this madness: The lessons I learned were more than just about Megan, about breast cancer, or about me. The lessons were about generosity, friendship, and the human spirit.
Megan was and is A Chi-Omega.
During the battle of her life, she showed infallible strength, courage, and readiness to empower the rest of us. Her sisters listened. We were empowered. In her memory, we are empowered.
To all of my sisters: my love and gratitude will never be thanks enough for allowing me to witness the kindness Megan felt during her last days and for renewing my faith in the generosity and bonds of a lifetime sisterhood. “. . . I am proud of my Sisters. We make a Difference.”
Courtney Scott Doran
Chi-Omega Theta Beta
Pledge Class 1995