KU student delivers keynote at fraternity’s national convention

Posted on Oct 3, 2016 in Campus News and News

Tom Babb
KU student Tom Babb delivered a keynote address at the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity’s 177th General Convention in Oklahoma City in August. Tom was paralyzed while swimming in the ocean during a family vacation to Hawaii his freshman year.

Before taking the stage, Tom was introduced by his sister Claire, who shared the story of Tom’s accident and the influential role the fraternity played in his recovery. Claire even admitted her initial jealousy of Tom’s new fraternity brothers shortly after her brother arrived at KU in the fall of 2015. Once immersed in life at KU as a Beta pledge, she felt that he had become too busy to return her calls, and she wondered whether the fraternity was right for him. “Who did those boys think that they were,” she shared in her remarks, “to call my brother their brother?” After the accident, however, the constant support and camaraderie sparked Tom’s recovery and gave him renewed energy to face what he called his “new normal.”

Although it is nearly impossible to watch with a dry eye, the story will warm the hearts of KU alumni.

Watch the video here.

Tom is already back at KU enrolled as a student and living in the Beta house, which was renovated during the summer to better accommodate Tom’s disability. His fraternity brothers also held a fundraiser in the spring to support future KU students with disabilities. The TomStrong 5k raised more than $47,000 for the Tom Babb Student Accessibility Scholarship.

For the fraternity’s efforts, the Alpha Nu chapter of Beta Theta Pi was recently awarded the Mary Ann Rasnak Access Champion Award by KU’s Academic Achievement and Access Center. The award, recognizing significant contributions to campus and classroom accessibility, is named for the center’s former director. Though typically awarded to an individual, this marked the first time an organization has won the Rasnak Award.

Contributions to the Tom Babb Student Accessibility Scholarship Fund can be made to KU Endowment.

–David Johnston

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