Phi Delta Theta’s steadfast commitment to improve the lives of families living with ALS has been unwavering over the past decades. Members have had meaningful impact by spreading awareness, raising money, and serving those facing the devastating disease that claimed the life of Brother Lou Gehrig eighty years ago. And now, along with The LiveLikeLou Foundation, the Fraternity is deepening its impact and bringing long-term benefits to the ALS community.
The LiveLikeLou Foundation Board of Trustees recently introduced a partnership with Hope Loves Company (HLC), resulting in a $60,000 grant payable over three years to the organization. Along with the financial commitment, the LiveLikeLou Foundation is committed to the placement of Phi Delta Theta brothers as volunteers at the organization’s free-of-charge summer camp experiences for kids of ALS families.
The first team of Phi Delta Theta volunteers to serve 20 kids of ALS families at a June HLC summer camp in Indiana included six Leadership Consultants: Nick Hartney, Brandon Shaw, Traer Freeman, Max Hull, Charlie Block, and Andrew Norrie.
Afterward, HLC Executive Director Jodi O’Donnell-Ames wrote a glowing report to Phi Delta Theta CEO Bob Biggs saying in part, “The Phi Delta Theta volunteers made comfort pillows, participated in improvisational acting, canoed, and participated in rock wall climbing, amongst others things. They worked with the kids to create a fun secret handshake… but mostly, they offered encouragement and high fives to the children…” She added the experience was “exactly what these kids needed.”
Phi Delta Theta General Council Chairman and LiveLikeLou Foundation Trustee Chris Brussalis, Allegheny ’87, said, “For years, brothers have done yard work and household chores, manned tables at walks, and even hosted fundraisers for families in their communities. Now, through this partnership, we actually get to spend time with ALS families first-hand and see the benefits of our support. This is a very special opportunity to build relationships with kids who could really use some Phi Delta Theta brotherhood during an extremely difficult time.”
LiveLikeLou Foundation Treasurer Greyson Geiler, Nebraska ‘93 reflected on the hardships that children of ALS face every day, saying, “Kids of ALS families often bear the biggest burden when ALS strikes a parent or loved one. They may have to take on caregiver chores, face their loved one’s pain and fears daily, and they even give up things like summer camp because the cost of care for their family member can be so challenging.”
The next HLC summer camps will be held August 17-19 in East Brookfield, Mass. and November 16-18 in Boulder Creek, California. It is LiveLikeLou’s goal to have 3-5 brothers volunteering at each camp. No experience is necessary, but those with experience in visual or performing arts, skit/play coordination, social work, scouting or camp counseling are especially encouraged to apply. Phis interested in volunteering at these camps may submit their applications here. At least five summer camps sessions will be held again starting Spring 2019.
Greyson emphasized, “Phis who volunteer with this program have a great opportunity to positively impact the lives of these kids. That’s the meaning of ‘to do what ought to be done’ and our brothers are doing it.”
In 2017, Phi Delta Theta took a significant step to broaden its reach and deepen its impact on the fight against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the devastating disease named for Brother Lou Gehrig through the launch of The LiveLikeLou Foundation, a stand-alone 501c3 not-for-profit entity with a national scope. Neil and Suzanne Alexander originally established LiveLikeLou in 2011 as a grassroots fund within The Pittsburgh Foundation when Neil, a University of Pittsburgh Phi Delt, was diagnosed with ALS. Phi Delta Theta encourages its members and chapters to support the mission of The LiveLikeLou Foundation through their philanthropic activities.