College fraternity fulfills wish for Georgia man

Feb 22, 2024

Kevin Kuehn (center) served as grand marshal of GCSU’s 2024 homecoming parade Friday. He’s pictured alongside his Kappa Alpha brothers, president Matt Rose (left) and Thomas Smith (right). The fraternity held a special initiation to bring Kuehn into the brotherhood a few weeks ago. Gil Pound | The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — The grand marshal of Georgia College & State University’s homecoming parade stood around somewhat nervously Friday as participants lined up.

Kevin Kuehn, the 30-year-old parade leader living with Down syndrome, only loosened up and found his million-dollar smile when his brothers showed up to join him. Brothers, not in the traditional sense, but in the fraternal one as GCSU’s chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order made one of Kuehn’s dreams come true a few weeks ago when they initiated him into their fraternity. 

So how does a 30-year-old non-college student with a genetic disorder be invited to join a fraternity? If you have to ask that question, you probably don’t know Kevin. 

“Kevin’s always been nice to everybody he’s ever met,” current KA president Matt Rose said. “I think he’s more of a KA than he is any other fraternity.”

Well before being initiated and taking to the campus streets seated atop a red Ford Thunderbird to head the homecoming celebration, Kuehn endeared himself to his future KA brothers. The Baldwin Life Enrichment Center, an organization that provides meaningful opportunities and experiences for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is a frequent presence at GCSU, and vice versa. The KAs have volunteered at the LEC since around 2015 Rose said, spending time with the clients and helping out with service opportunities. 

“Every time I’ve served at the LEC, Kevin’s there with a smile from ear to ear,” said Rose. “He lights a fire in my stomach and reminds me I don’t have anything to complain about.”

The relationship really grew in the past year or so as past KA president Sam Jones latched onto Kuehn. Jones would make a point to visit the LEC’s coffee truck when his friend was working on campus. It got to where the fraternity in the last few months began exploring ways to make Kuehn a brother. A precedent was found, and Kuehn was welcomed in with a pared down ceremony on Jan. 27. Afterward, the newest initiate joined his brothers for a good lunch at The Brick. 

Kevin’s mother Gina said she loves seeing her son get to be one of the boys. 

“They treat Kevin with respect, but they don’t treat him different at all,” she said. “Kevin knows that and it makes him extremely happy.”

“Kevin made that friendship and developed that brotherhood in his own right,” added LEC Director Barbara Coleman, who’s always quick to say that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are more like the rest of the world than they are different.