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Theta Chi rows in the dough
rowathon pic
Theta Chi members Juanito Rios and Jonathon Quevedo row around the pond at California State University, Stanislaus in an effort to raise funds for California Breathing. - photo by BROOKE BORBA / The Journal

Make way, geese! California State University, Stanislaus has a new resident in its pond for the next 36 hours. Members of the Theta Chi fraternity are taking a quick break from the books in order to row a canoe in the school pond as part of the group's annual Row-A-Thon that began on Tuesday.

The event is to raise awareness and funds for California Breathing, a program that helps target air pollution and improving the lives of people with asthma.

“We do this because of our past brother [Fraternity president John Tooma] passed away through an asthma attack,” said fraternity member Chris Netniss.

“We get to offer publicity for the students and for California Breathing, which is specific to the San Joaquin area. We do this every year and we collect donations. One hundred percent of all the donations go to California Breathing,” said Luke Medina, a fellow fraternity member.

Fraternity members have a booth set up out front, playing music and catching some rays in order to attract community members and classmates. Originally, the event took place in the 1970s but was put on the backburner until it resurfaced in 2001 as part of a 9/11 benefit. It wasn’t until nearly 10 years ago that it became an annual contribution from Theta Chi.

“This is our biggest philanthropy event of the year. This is something we take close to heart. Nobody ever gets to go into the pond, but we get special access. Sometimes you are out there from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., but it is a great time,” said Medina.

This year the fraternity hopes to raise the bar over their $2,000 contribution last year. The students will continue the project today, ending at 12 noon. Medina stressed that he will be out near the pond until Friday, and urges community members to participate in this local event.

To donate, call Chris Netniss at 202-6346 or email at