Lambda Chi Alpha Chapter honors brother's memory
Scott Thomas Wood would have celebrated his 21st birthday last Friday.
Wood died Feb. 9 after a four-year battle with a rare form of bone-marrow cancer. He spent the afternoon before in the company of his fraternity brothers from the Lambda Chi Alpha Chapter at Southeast Missouri State University.
"We all went home, planning to come back up on Friday, and on Thursday afternoon at about 5 p.m. we got the call from his brother that he had passed away," said Nick Maddock, Wood's close friend. "We didn't expect it to be that soon."
Maddock is the risk manager for Lambda Chi Alpha and organizer of the Jock Strong T-shirt campaign, a fundraiser for Wood's family and the St. Baldrick's Foundation. The foundation is a charity that funds research for childhood cancer and provided a lot of support for Wood and his family.
Wood incorporated his nickname within the fraternity, "Jock," into the design of the Jock Strong shirt he designed last year. They planned to sell the shirts to raise a little money for the Woods' medical bills.
"We thought that'd we maybe raise, like, $500 in general," Maddock said. "And obviously we were quite wrong on that. Thankfully."
The fraternity has sold 789 shirts and raised $9,232 as of April 30. They are giving $4,968.50 to the Wood family for medical expenses and the rest to St. Baldrick's.
The fraternity began selling the shirts to friends and family at Wood's funeral and then reached out to sororities and the national Lambda Chi Alpha organization.
"From there our orders just absolutely exploded," Maddock said. "We sold the shirts for a minimum donation of $12. We had some people donate $100 a shirt, a bunch of people donated $50. So people were definitely being very generous for the cause."
Maddock and Wood grew up in the same neighborhood in O'Fallon, Mo. They became good friends right around the time Wood was diagnosed with cancer.
"We were fifth-grade camp counselors together back in high school for two years," Maddock said. "That's when I really got to know who he was and talk to him, and we really became friends."
Wood served as internal vice president for his fraternity last year, a job Maddock calls one of the most difficult officer positions.
"Honestly, if he wasn't bald and he didn't have pale skin from the chemo treatment, you would not know he had cancer," Maddock said. "You would not know. He didn't ever like to talk about it. He didn't complain about it. He always got his work done and just went on his way like he was just like everybody else. I think that's something that's just really admirable when you look back on him, his life and the legacy he left with us."
The fraternity held a candlelit vigil at Kent Library shortly after Wood's death. Maddock said there were at least 250 people there, including sorority members, other fraternity members and professors. They also performed a ceremony at Wood's funeral, made his father an honorary brother and renamed their brother of the year award the "Scott T. Wood Brother of the Year Award." The group is also planning to have an annual event on Wood's birthday.
Eighteen members of Lambda Chi Alpha gathered on the front porch of their house on Monday to shave their heads, a tradition among donators to St. Baldrick's Foundation. They also presented a check for $4,263.50 to a representative from the foundation.
"That's going to change a lot of lives, and I think that's exactly what Scott did and would want us to do with his legacy," Maddock said.