Phi Psi 5K to benefit the American Cancer Society

For the men of Phi Kappa Psi, planning their fall philanthropy event to support the American Cancer Society is more than just something to add to a résumé.

Three members of the fraternity have been personally impacted by cancer.

Sophomore Alex Morris was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April 2002.

“Obviously my family was upset [when we found out],” Morris said. “It was just shocking, but we took it in stride.”

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells, specifically a type of white blood cell known as a lymphoid. These lymphoid cells are immature white blood cells and therefore are incapable of helping the body fight infections.

“It was rough,” Morris said. “I went through seven months of hard chemo and then I had a three year maintenance plan. It was not too bad, but it still made me feel sick. But honestly, if I could take it back I wouldn’t, just because of the values and the lessons that I learned along the way and all the people that I met.

“Don’t get me wrong, it really sucked, but I learned so much.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, 85 percent of children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia live for five years or more after their diagnosis.

“I am completely fine now,” Morris said. “They say that after five years of being in remission that you are totally cured.

“As far as the recovery process, I was always involved in sports and it set me back, but after I got all done with treatment, it was like everything just bounced right back into place.”

When Morris learned about Phi Kappa Psi’s philanthropy during recruitment last year, he was excited for the opportunity to work alongside of Phi Psi brothers and the American Cancer Society.

“We have done a lot of fundraising so far this year,” Morris said. “I am learning the reigns.

“I have never done something like this with a huge organization, so I am trying to learn everything so hopefully this spring or next year I can get more involved with a leadership position.”

Morris found support through all of the brothers of Phi Kappa Psi, but especially from junior John Evans, whose younger brother James Evans, was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia in September 2008.

Evans said the past two years have been a roller coaster.

With his brother going through treatment in Minnesota, Evans struggled with being so far away while at school, but was grateful for the support of his fraternity brothers.

“[The Phi Psi brothers] were all incredible and very understanding of what was happening,” Evans said. “I remember when they all first heard the news, a group of them got together with my older brother, Brad (Butler/Phi Psi alumni class of 2010) and me, and we shaved our heads to show support.

“We then sent the picture to James and he called me as soon as he got it and was ecstatic. He thought it was the coolest thing ever.

“The brotherhood had never even met him but because they knew Brad and myself, they were willing to look like aliens for a semester.”

Phi Kappa Psi works with the American Cancer Society to raise money for research to battle cancer by hosting a 5K run as their fall philanthropy event.

According to junior Cliff Mueller, all donations go directly to the American Cancer Society.

“We are setting our goal at $10,000 this year,” Mueller said. “We will be fundraising in many different ways. We will be having T-shirt sales, a giveback night at Noodles on Friday Sept. 24, corporate sponsorships and donations from families and friends.

“We hope that all of this will allow us to meet our goal.”

The brothers of Phi Kappa Psi are excited for the approach of the Phi Psi 5K.

“The Phi Psi 5K is a wonderful opportunity to put our support behind the American Cancer Society,” Mueller said. “Phi Psi brothers, family members and friends have all been directly affected by this disease and we take pride in being able to support the American Cancer Society in their effort to end cancer.”

More Than Just a Fundraiser: Runners line up at the start of the 2008 Phi Psi 5K. The run has more meaning to Phi Kappa Psi as two of their members been personally affected by cancer. (Photo courtesy of Cliff Mueller)

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