Luke Karel, Kansas ’26, beat his Acute Myeloid Leukemia in the spring of 2021. When it relapsed in November, the brothers of the Alpha Nu Chapter stepped up for their own. Brother Luke was desperately in need of a bone marrow transplant and his newfound brothers joined the effort in search of a donor match for Luke.
At KU’s Union Fest, Adam Jolles ’24, now chapter president, passed by a Be The Match booth and decided to do a cheek swab and get added to the national marrow registry. Months later, when he and the chapter learned of Luke’s relapse, Adam immediately reached out to Be The Match.
“I asked if they could come to swab our whole house,” he said. “Then I got the idea to invite other houses. The main goal of the event was to maximize donations, so it only made sense.”
In partnership with Be The Match, nearly 300 KU students were swabbed at the Alpha Nu chapter house and added to the national marrow registry.
“Honest, courageous, humble, loyal, smart, men of principle (was that redundant?) KU Betas,” Luke’s mother Suz posted on Instagram. “I could go on and on about the remarkable journey Luke has been on with these men since he arrived at KU last August.”
The Kansas chapter is continuously looking for others across Beta’s Broad Domain to participate or host drives of their own. Be The Match provides kits free of charge and can even come to a chapter house to have the event. Those interested can contact the chapter, visit my.BeTheMatch.org/BucketOfLuke or text “BucketsOfLuke” to 61474 to receive a registration link.
“We are so amazed by the love and support we’ve received from Beta chapters all over,” said Adam. “We encourage you to reach out if you want guidance in supporting us!”
Brother Luke made the decision to “Go Beta” in August 2022. He was a new member but the chapter saw Luke as an equal brother nonetheless and has supported him through his entire journey. Upon returning home to Denver mid-term, Luke resumed his chemotherapy treatments to keep the leukemia at bay. The chapter sent several care packages to remind their brother of his KU family. Included were notes from his brothers and a chapter composite, which soon found their respectful places on the wall in his hospital room. Brothers also sent a personal item from their rooms to Colorado to be with Luke.
Being at home, Luke was not able to be initiated with his new member class. So, on February 18, more than 50 Kansas brothers packed into a charter bus and made the overnight trek across the state to surprise Luke and formally initiate him into the Alpha Nu Chapter. Alumni from the Denver area also joined in support of their brother.
“I don’t think any of these amazing humans will ever forget how this act of kindness and sacrifice inspires not only Luke and themselves, but so many people we aren’t even aware of,” Suz said.
Luke was originally scheduled to receive his needed transplant in early March, after finding out his mother was the best match for donation. However, it has since been delayed and is now planned for March 14 at the earliest.
As a result of being swabbed in August, Brother Adam was matched as a donor for an elderly woman who also suffered from Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He flew to Dallas at the end of February to donate marrow to her and save her life.
Be The Match, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping every patient get the lifesaving transplant they need. As trusted leaders in advancing treatments for those facing life-threatening blood cancers, it provides the ground-breaking research, innovative technologies, patient support and education to save lives.