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News & Press: Chapter News

Tacos and Tugs for Evan

Thursday, April 27, 2017   (0 Comments)
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By Stephen Lee
(Lewis University, '10)

Evan Flannery may be young, but the kid’s a fighter.

He was born premature at only 23 weeks, along with his twin sister who fought for three days but perished. Evan spent the first seven months of his life at Rockford Memorial Hospital in Rockford, IL. His parents weathered the emotional and financial strain, while every day spending hours with their son. With the help of the medical team and perhaps a little divine intervention, Evan’s fight was a success.

Image: Brett Flannery (NIU, '00), wife Angie and Evan Flannery.

Now five years old, Evan recently battled cancer.

According to a GoFundMe page set up on behalf of the Flannery family, the type of cancer that affected Evan’s liver and lungs is rare. “One in a million sort of thing, but really premature kids have a much greater chance of getting it”.

When the chapter learned of Evan’s cancer, they decided to join the fight. “Brett and Angie are both wonderful people and have done great things for our chapter” explained chapter president, Devin McDonough (NIU, '18).

Brett Flannery (NIU, '00) is an alumnus of the Fraternity, and Angie is a faculty advisor to the Illinois Psi Chapter.

Former chapter president, Matt Green (NIU, '17), explained the impact of Brett and his wife. “With Angie being our advisor, we view her as our Fraternity mom. She is the one who congratulates us on our successes, supports us during our struggles, picks us up when we are off track, and hugs us when we walk across that final stage. Brett never misses an active/alumni event. He has also been on our alumni board for years to make sure that the actives never lose sight of those who came before us. This is a family that embraces the motto of Give, Expecting Nothing Thereof.”

The brothers decided to raise money to help the Flannery family with their medical expenses. They would hold an event selling tacos, because everybody loves tacos, and everybody loves Evan. The event would be called “Tacos for Evan”.

Image: Brother Jacob Deltoro heating up the tortillas. Looks good.

“We started a GoFundMe campaign and asked for donations to help raise money for the event costs” said Devin. “We catered from three DeKalb restaurants: Chipotle, Burritoville, and Los 3 Burritos. We also had brothers working the grill to help prepare the food. We advertised 3 tacos for $5 all across Greek Row for weeks leading up to the event to get people excited for it.”

Tacos for Evan took place at the Phi Kappa Theta house on November 4, 2016. Brothers also sold cancer wristbands designed by a Phi Kap alumnus to help raise additional money.

“The event, spearheaded by brothers Korbin Bethell (NIU, '18) and Isaiah Booker (NIU, '18), was a great success”, said McDonough. “It was awesome to see so many people support the event. We even had DeKalb police officers stop by and grab a bite to eat! In total, we raised about $1,500 for the Flannery family.

Image: Chapter posing with Evan and his Mother during Tugs.

Evan is now cancer free, explains Brett. “We are done with chemotherapy and all traces of the cancer are gone. We have to check periodically to make sure it stays gone but we feel very blessed.”

When asked about the Tacos for Evan event, Brett said, “Angie and I are sincerely touched by all the love and support we have received. And the fact that the brothers went out of their way to plan this event for Evan was just unbelievable. It was a very tangible example of the guys living the motto.”

This Spring, the brothers went a step further. They created custom Phi Kap shirts with letters on the front, and the words “Evan Strong” on the back. Then they sported the shirts at the NIU’s annual Tugs competition.

Image: Chapter sporting Evan Strong shirts during Tugs.

Evan and his parents even made an appearance at the competition.

Matt Green explained the importance of tugging. “Those who have tugged before know very well you tug for the person in front of you and the person behind, along with all of those who have tugged before you. This year, (our) team tugs for one more person, Evan. Our team wears ‘Evan Strong’ on our backs to symbolize the fight that Evan has overcame. For his strength and perseverance to shine within our fight. It was awesome to be able to share this moment with them. Thank you for coming out and supporting us at our first match. WE ARE EVAN STRONG!”

Phi Kappa Theta at NIU would go on to win the Tugs championship, and the inspiration of Evan Strong surely motivated the brothers.

The chapter gave Evan his very own Phi Kappa Theta shirt, a gift he’ll surely cherish. Who knows, maybe he’ll decide to join Phi Kap down the road.

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