Colgate Thirteen Honors Former University Presidents in D.C. Walk to Fight Alzheimer’s

Anastasia Thumser, Contributing Writer

The Colgate Thirteen, the University’s all-male a cappella group, performed during the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Oct. 8. In addition to performing songs at various points throughout the walk, the group visited Congress, appeared on FOX 5 DC and connected with alumni as well as local a cappella groups. 

The Colgate Thirteen attended the walk in honor of two former Colgate presidents affected by Alzheimer’s: the late George D. Langdon, Jr. and Rebecca Chopp. 

To ensure the group could perform at the event, several Colgate alumni worked with the Thirteen to aid with logistics and planning. Sophomore Max Alphonso, who has been in the group since the fall of his first year, helped to organize the trip as Business Manager.

“Going on trips, like this one to D.C., is definitely one of my favorite parts of being in the group,” Alphonso said. “A lot of communication between the Thirteen alumni […], as well as the alumni who graciously hosted us for the fall weekend, was necessary to make it all happen. Luckily, things pulled through, and we were able to take a full van to DC.”

Organizing and attending the Walk to End Alzheimers required planning and communication by both the Colgate Thirteen and their contact for the event, Walk Manager Brittney Hider. Hider confirmed that the effort demonstrated by groups like the Thirteen contributed to the walk’s success. 

“The event was phenomenal. We had a huge turnout of around 3000 people, lots of involvement, high energy and overall a very positive experience,” Hider said. 

In addition to honoring alumni, the Colgate Thirteen was able to meet and practice with other a cappella groups at Georgetown University. For senior Starlic Williams II, the Thirteen’s assistant leader, this was the most memorable part of the trip.

“We all had fun, and we were enjoying ourselves doing what we love to do: sing,” Williams said. 

The Colgate Thirteen was founded in 1942 and is among the oldest collegiate a cappella groups in the U.S. This year, the group consists of 24 members.

To pay homage to its name, the group performs all its concerts with 13 members. The Thirteen typically travels to three metropolitan locations on the East Coast per semester. 

As a relatively small but well-established organization, the group has a strong sense of camaraderie, and the members are passionate about their art. Alphonso spoke on the emotions evoked through each performance, even if informal. 

“One of our member’s parents lived nearby [in D.C.], so they [took us out] to dinner,” Alphonso said. “After we finished up there, we sang a song for them right outside the restaurant, with the son of the parents doing the solo. [The parents] both cried during the middle of the performance.”

Not only was the trip successful in terms of raising awareness for Alzheimer’s and promoting the Colgate Thirteen as an organization, Williams believes that trips such as the D.C. walk are imperative for new members to feel connected to the a cappella group. 

“I think that this trip definitely inspired the new members because they got a taste of what we do on a regular basis,” Williams said. “I want them to shoot for the stars when it comes to traveling and sharing the gifts we have.”