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Following the presentation of eight individual awards and recognition of nearly 70 chapter award winners, Friday’s Awards Luncheon drew to a close with an inspirational and compelling keynote from former Chapter President Adam Jolles, Kansas ’23.

Jolles recounted the story of an Alpha Nu new member, Luke Karel ’26, who received a devastating diagnosis last fall of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Though Luke had previously battled and defeated the disease, the recurrence threatened to cast a dark shadow over his life.

The question loomed over the chapter: How could Alpha Nu, a brotherhood of nearly 100 collegiate men, rally behind Luke in this terrifying time?

That’s when Jolles remembered a chance encounter he had on campus earlier that year with Be the Match – the volunteer registry of the National Marrow Donor Program.

“At that point, I didn’t know much about the bone marrow registry,” Jolles said. “But I was told that all I had to do to potentially save a life was swab the inside of my mouth with a cotton swab, so I registered.”

Jolles reached out to Be the Match and organized a registry event at the Beta House. In only a few hours, more than 300 KU students became potential bone marrow donors, each with the potential to save a life. “It was incredible to see so many members of the KU community rally behind Luke, and it sparked an incredible partnership between the Kansas Betas and Be the Match,” Jolles said.

With action taken to help heal Luke physically, next up was tending to him emotionally.

Because his diagnosis came in the fall, Luke didn’t have the opportunity to be initiated with the rest of his new member class. Proving true brotherhood knows no bounds, the Alpha Nu Betas decided they were going to give their soon-to-be brother a ceremony to remember.

After a long and secretive planning process with the help of Luke’s family, more than 60 chapter members embarked in the middle of the night on a bus journey to initiate Luke in his Colorado hometown.

“The bond we shared throughout that trip was immeasurable,” Jolles said. “As Luke’s mom described it to me, this act of support and solidarity became the spark that ignited Luke’s battle against cancer. Witnessing our brothers come together and devote an entire weekend to being with him was a moment of immense pride for all of us.”

But the wave of support didn’t stop there. Luke’s story resonated across state lines and touched

the hearts of Beta chapters across North America. From Duke to Colorado Boulder, to Appalachian State and beyond, brothers have rallied in support of Luke and those like him, each holding donor registry drives that add a link to the chain of solidarity.

“Sometimes, we underestimate the ripple effects of our actions,” Jolles said. “But witnessing the incredible turnout for Luke and seeing Beta chapters rally behind him, I was brought to tears. This outpouring of support was more than just a demonstration of brotherhood – it was a lifeline, a chain of strength that Luke clung to during the darkest hours of his battle.”

Through internal bleeding, transfusions, seemingly endless surgeries and excruciating pain, Luke drew strength from this chain of solidarity, turning adversity into a testament to human will. Surrounded by fraternity brothers, family, classmates, and strangers from all over, he found the courage to fight his battle. Today, although he is recovering from surgeries, including a bone marrow transplant from his own mother, Luke is medically cancer-free.

“The magnitude of his triumph is a testament to his strength and the power of community,” Jolles said. “It’s a testament to the indomitable spirit of fraternity.”

Following Jolles’ telling of this emotional and endearing story from the stage, representative from Be the Match came to the stage to tell the room of Betas and friends how they, too, could potentially save someone’s life. Members are encouraged to learn more about hosting a donor registry event on their home campus or become a donor themselves.

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