Thursday, March 22, 2007

Helping a Brother In Need Is What Its All About

Fraternity brothers help a founding member
By Mike Wilder

If beer and all-night parties are all that come to mind when you hear the word "fraternity," Mac and Faye Lewis are asking you to reconsider.

Mac, a quadriplegic since an accident in 1985, and Faye, his wife, want people to know about the help they get from members of his fraternity.

He was one of the founding members of Kappa Sigma's chapter at Elon College, now Elon University, in 1973.

One Saturday in February, 14 Kappa Sigma brothers from Elon came to their house in Eli Whitney to paint two rooms and clean out a storage building.

The Elon students had already been out once this school year to help Mac and Faye. They plan to go back again this spring.

The day was as much about fellowship as about work. The guys brought barbecue and visited with Mac before starting their tasks.There was mild gossip about fraternity brothers who weren't there -- one dances on furniture for no apparent reason, another snores -- mixed in with discussions of plans for the spring break that started this weekend.

"Mac, we all started on our spring break diet," one of the brothers told him. "We're all going on this cruise, so we decided we need to drop a few."

Mac's large screen TV, a gift from a friend, prompted discussions of favorite TV programs. When the discussion turned to "24," Faye piped up, "Kiefer Sutherland is so hot."

Mac, who played high school football, talked about a recent episode of "Friday Night Lights" before moving on to critique a day-time soap opera -- in particular, a character he doesn't like who "needs to be killed off the program."

Mark McHugh, an Elon junior who is vice president of Kappa Sigma's local chapter, said having the workday allowed the guys to see the results of their efforts. Along with getting to know the people they're helping, that can mean more than raising money for a good cause, he said.

"Mac's a great guy," he said, "so we enjoy coming out here."

Nathan Copeland, an Elon senior, said helping out that way is at the heart of what being in a fraternity is about. Besides, he said, it's fun to hear stories about what Kappa Sigma was like in the 1970s.

Some of the Elon students took a break from work to fish in a pond on the property.
They brought Mac a longsleeved Kappa Sigma T-shirt with the slogan, "Loved and protected by brothers; feared and desired by others."

Mac and Faye said fraternity brothers from his time at Elon have also been good to him.

Mac has been mostly confined to bed for the past three and a half years. Previously, he had gotten around perhaps surprisingly well in a wheelchair and specially equipped van.

Faye said fraternity pals from his time at Elon have increased their efforts to stay in touch through cards, e-mails, phone calls and visits during the past few years.

Barry Baker was in Kappa Sigma with Mac at Elon. He was at Mac and Faye's house the Saturday the Elon students were there. Baker said he admires the young men for "doing service no one really expects them to do.' The guys may not all be choir boys, he said, "but it's not all 'Animal House.'"

Bonds with fraternity brothers tend to be either lasting or easily renewed, Mac said."If I haven't seen (someone) in 20 years," he said, "it's like we had a beer yesterday." Faye said she's impressed with how the fraternity brothers are willing to hug each other and say "I love you." "I've been very surprised from what I've seen with these guys," she said