Proving there is much more to Greek life than parties, UT's Pi chapter of the Kappa Alpha fraternity raised more than $7,000 in donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association this past December.
This philanthropic feat comes five years after the fraternity was reestablished at UT. In 2002, KA national pulled the chapter's charter after allegations of hiring strippers, organizing cock fights and recruiting homeless men to box. A new chapter of KA was chartered in the spring of 2008.
Since KA has rejoined campus, the fraternity has won the 2010 George C. Marshall Award — presented to the top KA chapter in the nation — and moved into a new fraternity house behind Reese Hall.
While most students studied for last semester's midterms, the KA brothers held its annual letter writing campaign, "KA's for a Cure," in November. Each brother mailed at least 20 letters to friends, family, churches and businesses. As evidenced by the response of donors, the letters outlined a powerful cause.
Muscular dystrophy is a degenerative, incurable disease that affects children — almost exclusively males — from birth. Most children lose the ability to walk between the ages of 7 and 13. The Muscular Dystrophy Association, a non-profit health agency, funds medical research around the world in search of a cure for the disease. After seeing the impact of muscular dystrophy first-hand, the brothers of KA decided to back the mission of MDA.
"After having a mother and her young daughter who had muscular dystrophy meet with the chapter, the brothers were extremely motivated to undertake MDA's letter writing campaign," said Grant Williamson, KA's Philanthropy Chair for 2012.
Brent Carr, the MDA fundraising coordinator for East Tennessee, had nothing but good things to say about the brotherhood's contributions to his organization.
"College is such a busy time and I find it really amazing that this group of guys can focus on giving back, setting a goal and getting it done," Carr said. "In fact, the original goal was $5,000 and they blew that out of the water. It sets a great example of what the Greek system is capable of."
The proceeds of "KA's for a Cure" will be used to give children with muscular dystrophy the opportunity to attend a summer camp created by MDA. The camp targets children living in eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia.
The donation will also help provide vital care to families dealing with the disease through an MDA clinic at the UT Medical Center.
In addition to its work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, KA also has active service relationships with many Knoxville area organizations, including Salvation Army, Second Harvest Food Bank, Bearden United Methodist Church and the Bleak House.