As the images and stories of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon held the nation captive, Tyler Sheveland and Chris Kirkeeng, along with brothers of Sigma Tau Gamma, were moved to do something. When the Winona State University (WSU) students learned that eight-year-old Martin Richard, one of three killed in the explosions at the finish line, was the son of an alumni brother from another chapter of the fraternity, the two stayed up all night long, plotting a fundraiser they could bring to Winona to help the victims.
Eight-year-old Martin Richard, at right, was killed during the Boston Marathon explosions last week. He is pictured above with father William, mother Denise, sister Jane and brother Henry.
"We just want to do anything that we can to help him," said Kirkeeng of William Richard, Delta Chi '92. William's son Martin was killed in the explosion; his wife, Denise, and six-year-old daughter Jane were also seriously injured, while son Henry escaped harm.
Sigma Tau Gamma will host a 5k walk/run benefit on Wednesday, April 24 at the East Lake Winona. Participants will meet at Lake Park Lodge, and start times will be held at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Donations will also be accepted at the lower hyphen in Kryzsko Commons at WSU. All proceeds will be donated in the name of the Richard family to The One Fund to support victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
As the nation continues to grieve the loss of young Martin, Wednesday will be a day when people from the region can rise up and do something to help, said Kirkeeng.
"When you join a fraternity like this, obviously we share in each other's joys, but we also share in each other's losses as well," explained Kirkeeng. "[Our desire to help] became really serious when we found out that one of our alumni was affected."
In a statement last week, William asked people to continue to pray for his family. "My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston," he wrote. "My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers."
The WSU chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma is relatively new, in its third semester as a group on campus. Kirkeeng, a senior studying Spanish and global studies, said if he could change one thing about his experiences with the club, he simply would have joined sooner.
"Basically, there are six principals that we use to develop leaders for America," continued Kirkeeng. "Learning, leadership, value, benefit, integrity and excellence."
The fraternity includes philanthropic efforts on the local and national level. Nationally, the groups work to support Special Olympics, and at the local level, members volunteer at Grace Place.
To find out more about how to help, find the group "Richard Family - Boston Marathon Tragedy 5k Benefit" on Facebook, or go to the event kiosk in Kryzsko Commons, which will be open on Monday and Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.