As a show of support for a Kappa Alpha Society (KA) alumnus Charles Ruehl ’15 who is battling a rare degenerative muscular disease, the HWS chapter of the international fraternity recently hosted a successful charity basketball tournament in his honor. With 30 two-player teams participating, the KA fundraiser brought in $1,400 in donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“I can tell you that it has been an absolute honor and privilege to be able to call Charlie my friend for the past three years,” says KA President Connor May ’16, who co-organized the tournament with other fraternity leadership. “It absolutely breaks my heart knowing that he has to get up every day and combat this horrible disease, but he does it with a smile on his face and with one of the most positive attitudes that I’ve ever seen.”
Over the summer, May contacted active KA members, encouraging them to begin brainstorming ideas for a service project. As president of KA, May wanted to kick off the academic year on a positive note and find a way that could continue to advance their efforts around service. The ideas came flooding in, he says, but it was KA Vice President Jack Slattery ’16 and Patrick Hatheway ’16, who proposed the idea that hit closest to home: a charity event to rally support for their KA brother.
May says that Slattery and Liam Brooks ’17 provided an extraordinary amount of leadership to bring the fundraiser to fruition; it was because of their efforts that the basketball tournament was such a success. Other KA members also carried out tabling efforts and collected donations. Student Activities, Buildings and Grounds and Campus Safety were also invaluable to facilitating the event, May says. “When you have motivated people like Jack and Liam willing to put in the necessary footwork, it makes the event a lot easier to execute,” May says. “I cannot give them enough credit; the event was successful because of their hard work and dedication.”
“This was truly a prime example of how we have a fantastic group of people here at HWS who truly work together in order to put on great events and functions for the betterment of our community,” says May, who also serves as treasurer of the Inter-Fraternity Council and works for the Office of Admissions. “We can say with confidence that although this was one of the first philanthropy events of its kind for Kappa Alpha, it will certainly not be the last.”
As the oldest Greek-lettered collegiate fraternity, KA is the precursor for the modern Greek system. The New York Beta Chapter at Hobart, or the CH Chapter, was founded in 1844 and is the oldest remaining branch of the Society.
May says the tournament is but one of many examples that exhibit the strong community involvement of KA and other fraternities at HWS. “We want to demonstrate that those core values of philanthropy and service on which KA was founded remain very important to us; our commitment to the HWS community is something that we cannot function without.”
From jobs on campus and volunteer work to competing on athletic teams, members of KA are involved at HWS and in the community in a number of ways. Current members, May says, are encouraged to step beyond their comfort zone and get involved.
“We recognize the importance of school spirit on our campus and we strongly believe that it only takes one person and a little bit of planning to make a significant impact on this campus,” May says. “Outside of campus, we have members who volunteer within the community whether it’s through teaching Sunday school at a local church or volunteering as an America Reads tutor, we understand the importance of service for both the HWS and Geneva communities.”
May says the tournament’s success also showed how students are able to rally for a common cause. He explains the effort wouldn’t have been possible without all those who were able to lend their support, through direct or indirect involvement.
“Fraternities at HWS aren’t like fraternities at other schools,” May says. “We all play an active role in the community outside of our respective houses. We care about the other students just as much as we care about our respective brothers. We’ve been given an extraordinary opportunity to be able to partake in such an amazing facet of campus life and we want to share that with as many students as possible.”