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Fraternity brothers establish memorial fund

Matthew Patrick Omans' family and fraternity brothers gather

The family of Matthew Patrick Omans '10 and his fraternity brothers in Lambda Chi Alpha gathered to dedicate a fund in his memory Oct. 19 during a weekend celebrating the chapter's centennial anniversary. Photo: Chris Kitchen Photography.

"He was someone who everybody wanted to be around and everyone was touched by," recalled Alexander Aidun '08 about his close friend and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brother, the late Matthew Patrick Omans '10. "He talked about starting a business with a single question, 'How can I help you?' as its driving mission."

Following Omans' example of service to others, Lambda Chi Alpha alumni from the classes of 2007-13 have raised $125,000 to establish a memorial fund in Omans' name, which was dedicated on campus Oct. 19 during the fraternity's centennial anniversary.

Omans, a graduate of the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, died at age 24 in March 2012.

In remarks at the event, Omans' brother, Jesse Grayman, said: "I have made a point of getting to know some of Matt's closest brothers from Lambda Chi Alpha. One thing I have learned from doing this is that the best way to cherish and honor our memories of Matt is to keep living our lives according to the gutsy and outrageously fun examples he gave us. I see that his dreams and goals are matched by those of his Lambda Chi Alpha brothers, and your achievements do justice to those memories."

"It's a tremendous testament to Matt that we are able to turn around our grief and come together, take on a hard challenge and turn it on its head," said Aidun. The fund establishes an endowment whose earnings will benefit chapter members through individual grants. The fund will also help fund renovations to the house kitchen and support mental health initiatives on campus.

Matthew Patrick Omans

Matthew Patrick Omans '10

Aidun spearheaded the fundraising effort while working with three other classmates -- Bill Smith '10, James Hunsberger '10 and Grayson Fahrner '08 -- and alumni fraternity brother John Zelenka '03, MBA '12, who Aidun said provided invaluable support.

Greek alumni leaders at Cornell and at the national level say that even among a Greek community that is among the nation's oldest, largest and most generous, there is no precedent for the speed and readiness with which Omans' fraternity brothers responded.

"While the effort exceeded its target goal of $100,000," said Michael Filiatrault '95, the chapter's alumni president, "it's the number of people who have contributed that's amazing. Bonding, dedication and loyalty are what have blown this campaign out of the water."

Campaign manager Greg McElroy, who specializes in working with fraternity fundraising nationwide, says: "I have never seen this kind of outpouring of support from such a young group of alumni. A normal participation rate would be about 20 percent, but these young men achieved over 50 percent. I believe that's because Omans had a profound effect on the other brothers."

While serving as the chapter's steward, house manager and ritualist, Omans was a leader by example, according to Aidun. "Whatever Matt was doing at the time he put 110 percent into, and he made you want to do so as well. At his core was compassion and love for the people around him."

Travis Apgar, the Robert G. Engel Associate Dean of Students, said: "I congratulate all who assisted in the creation of this fund. Their commitment and actions demonstrate true brotherhood and exemplify the highest values of service and leadership that are core to the Greek system."

In its 100th anniversary year, Lambda Chi Alpha is also raising $1.75 million toward $2.4 million for capital improvements to Edgemoor, its fraternity house at 125 Edgemoor Lane.

Diane Lebo Wallace is a writer for Student and Academic Services.

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