Sigma Phi Epsilon uses philanthropy to support brother diagnosed with cancer

By on April 12, 2010

By Elijah Mckenzie

Cameron Eldridge started the 2008 academic year at the University of Louisville like any other. The business student stayed involved in his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and balanced his time between schoolwork and friends.
These days, Cameron, now a junior, spends most of his time at home or in the hospital.
This is because, in the fall of 2008, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Brad Gasior, a junior electrical engineering major and childhood friend of Cameron, remembered when Cameron first discovered he had leukemia.
“The first signs of trouble came when Cameron started complaining about stomach pains after working out or playing sports,” said Gasior. “Most of us weren’t too concerned about it, thinking he had mono or something. We never expected it to be cancer.”
Tom Eldridge, Cameron’s father and a graduate of U of L, said that the intensity of the leukemia in Cameron’s system had fluctuated. However, in recent months, Tom was informed that his son would still need further treatment.
“Cameron stayed in a hospital in Houston, Texas for a bone marrow transplant during the winter of 2009,” said Tom. “During his stay, the doctors discovered that his leukemia was in remission and wanted to keep him in Houston. But Cameron wanted to return home to be with friends and family. He missed it here.”
As vice president of programming for the Sigma Phi Epsilon U of L chapter, Gasior helped to rally the brothers of the fraternity together to shave their heads as a show of moral support for Cameron.
“Cameron’s best quality was getting others to listen to him in finding the best solution to any problem,” said Gasior. “He is a real inspiration to the entire chapter and we wanted to do something to show that he meant a lot to us.”
The Sigma Chi fraternity at U of L took notice of the shaved heads on the Sigma Phi Epsilon members and soon discovered the nature of Cameron’s condition. Impressed by the level of commitment that Sigma Phi Epsilon had for their brother, the members Sigma Chi developed the idea of putting on a home run derby to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and to help cover Cameron’s medical expenses. Thus, CamSlam was born.
“It seemed like all of Greek life was excited for the event,” said Billy Simmons, a freshman electrical engineering student and community service chairman for Sigma Phi Epsilon. “Several societies and businesses provided support because it was for such a good cause. It was for a student in need.”
Along with Simmons, Colin Dodd, a junior communication major and vice president of communication for Sigma Phi Epsilon, was given the task of promoting and advertising the event to students, organizations and potential sponsors.
“There are so many people helping organizations in operation today, but to stand up and support individuals in time of need like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is something special,” said Dodd. “Our generation has been known as the generation to sit back and let it ride, but I hope we inspire others to stand up and support organizations such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.”
The CamSlam home run derby took place on Thursday, April 8 at Jim Patterson Stadium and featured various other events, including a corn hole tournament and a base race.
Additionally, awards were presented to the organization with the most members attending, the top donation and the top batter.
LaMont Johnson, resident director for Community Park, met Cameron in 2009 and formed a friendship with him and the members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. As a mentor to the resident community, Johnson was asked by Sigma Phi Epsilon to speak at CamSlam and share some of Cameron’s words of gratitude, which were e-mailed to Johnson prior to the event.
“I was honored to do it for Cameron,” said Johnson. “He is a definite unsinkable hero and he gives us all an appreciation for friendship and brotherhood.”
Cameron’s father appreciates everything that his son’s fraternity brothers have done.
“When something like this happens, it’s nice to have a support group to be there, to visit Cameron in the hospital and even shave their heads,” said Tom. “Through all of his trials, the fraternity has continued to be his friend and brother.”

 

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