Phi Delta Theta fraternity raises money for ALS research

By Ryann Brooks Mar 14, 2023

Courtesy Caleb Mollett

Emporia State University’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity raised more than $1,700 during its inaugural Love Like Lou benefit gala last week.

The gala, held March 9 at the Emporia Arts Center, raised money to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a progressive, and fatal, neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

People with ALS lose their ability to walk, talk, eat and eventually, breathe. It usually strikes people between the ages of 40 – 70. While there’s currently no cure, scientists have made significant progress in understanding what causing the disease.

According to, for about 90% of all cases, there’s no known family history of the disease or presence of a genetic mutation linked to ALS. For 5-10% of all cases, there’s a known family history of the disease. This is often called familial ALS. In families with familial ALS, there is a 50% chance each offspring will inherit the gene mutation and may develop the disease.

“Live Like Lou is Phi Delta Theta’s national partner foundation,” said event chair Seth Williams, adding that they raised $1,779 throughout the evening. “It kinda crushed my expectations. I was hoping for at least $1,000 for our first year, but we are ecstatic for that number.”

Kelli Johnson, who has been living with ALS since 2008, was invited to speak at the event. The average survival is two – five years after diagnosis.

“I think the biggest takeaway is that she’s a fighter,” Williams said. “The big thing she said was exercising and doing as much as she can to keep strong and active, as well as just changing her lifestyle and using the supports around her not to give up. That’s what she credits for sticking around for so long.”

Williams said he’s planning on the event becoming an annual occurance, and he’s hoping to help raise even more money for ALS research in the future.

In the meantime, plans are in the work for the Phi Delts’ next fundraiser during Homecoming weekend this fall.

“All the proceeds for that will go to SOS,” he said.