Lights and slot machines of the Las Vegas Nights theme took over the Commons Ballroom Sunday night for the annual Mr. Delta pageant.
Hosted by VCU’s Eta Tau Chapter of the National Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the show pitted four male students against each other hoping to end the night with a sash and a crown.
“I have a lot of friends who are kind of afraid to step out of their shell,” said Kieran Wilkinson, a junior chemistry major and pageant contestant. “So I did this as a testament to them, showing that this is something I’m afraid to do but I’m still doing it.”
The contestants — Ibn McClelland, Travis Ellison, Kieran Wilkinson and Berham McDowell — raised money for the Delta Foundation. The foundation is a scholastic program for African American women studying math and science, said Maureen Ogando, a secondary education graduate student who helped plan the event.
Contestants raised more than $1,580 for the fund by asking friends, family and people on the street, Ogando said. Another $500 was raised via ticket sales.
“I just want to show that your environment doesn’t dictate your future and no matter where you come from you can still make a difference in today’s society,” said McDowell, a junior social work major and participant in the show.
Contestants were given the chance to showcase their style with three modeling sections of the evening, a talent contest and Q&A with the contestants.
“Usually African American males only get the chance to showcase that they can play basketball, but we’re doing something different,” said McClelland, a senior mass communications major and contestant.
McClelland performed a dance dedicated to Trayvon Martin. Wilkinson read a poem about the problems of Black History Month. Both McDowell and Ellison sang during the talent portion of the contest.
“I wanted to come see the guys perform their talent and strut on the runway for us,” said audience member Jada Mois, a sophomore criminal justice major.
Deliberation from judges began after the Q&A portion for who would walk away as the next Mr. Delta.
Ellison, a junior mass communications major, won the title of the night’s fan favorite, McDowell voted as Mr. Delta and Mr. Congeniality, and Wilkinson won the Mr. Money title after raising $480. McDowell earned the title of Mr. Delta of 2014.
“It means a lot,” McDowell said. “I just went out there to have fun. I think we all did that.”
Funding for the event came from the sorority’s annual budget. The hosts budgeted $1,500 for planning of Sundays pageant, according to Ogando.