Sigma Lambda Beta helps injured alumnus

University greeks set up a fund to help pay for his medical expenses.

Anne Millerbernd

A University of Minnesota alumnus and Sigma Lambda Beta brother is receiving financial and emotional support from students and the greek community after a life-threatening accident.

Shan Chikonka hit his head on a railing in a New York City subway station late last week, Sigma Lambda Beta member and close friend Ken Gonzales said. His injury caused brain swelling, which required removing a part of his skull.

Less than a week later, the University’s Sigma Lambda Beta chapter organized a fund to help pay Chikonka’s hospital bills. As of Wednesday night, it had collected more than $8,600.

The fund was an entirely student-driven initiative, said the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life director Matt Levine. 

“We’ll put things on hold to help our brothers and sisters,” he said of the greek community. “We’re really proud of the chapter.”

Fraternity members first heard of Chikonka’s injury Friday. He underwent two surgeries and was still unresponsive as of Wednesday, Gonzales said.

It’s unclear whether Chikonka will make a full recovery, Gonzales said.

“We don’t know what kind of recovery it’s going to be, but it’s going to be a pretty strenuous and long recovery,” he said.

Social media has played a major role in spreading the word about Chikonka’s injury, said Sigma Lambda Beta’s chapter president, Anthony Jison. The donation website has more than 600 shares on Facebook.

“I’m sure there’s at least some amount that’s come from people who barely know the guy,” he said.

Multicultural Greek Council President Nancy Mahdy said there was also a card and a stand set up in Coffman Union this week so people could donate and write personal messages to Chikonka.

“It’s very remarkable in such short notice they have taken incredible steps to make sure that Shan is getting all the proper care and support that he needs,” she said.

Gonzales met Chikonka while he was pledging Sigma Lambda Beta and said he’s become one of Gonzales’s mentors and best friends.

Chikonka graduated from the University with a communications studies degree in 2010 and works as a web developer, according to his LinkedIn page. Those who know him describe him as an easygoing, likable guy.

“[He’s] a free-spirit type of person who’s always positive,” Gonzales said. “He is a great motivator, and when things get rough for other people, he’s one of the few people I know can lift someone’s spirits.”