Fraternity rallies to help professor who lost home in fire

October 7, 2016

The Pi Kappa Phi fraternity called on the Troy University family this week to help bring aid to one of its own after a tragedy.

Three weeks ago, Joseph Arnold, a professor on the Troy Campus, received a call that his home had burned to the ground and with it a piece of equipment that is vital to his quality of life—his eSight. Arnold is blind, and this device allows him to see; however, his insurance company would not cover the costs to replace this sight-giving, electronic pair of glasses.

When Pi Kappa Phi member Benjamin Barnett, a junior biomedical science major from Warrior, Alabama, heard this he decided to act.

“I see this as an overall improvement to the quality of his life,” he said. “It allows him to see his family, go to TROY baseball games and actually watch baseball, go through Cade’s Cove and enjoy the animals and scenery, and even create his own work. I think it’s huge.”

A student plays corn hole while blindfolded during the fundraiser.

A student plays corn hole while blindfolded during the fundraiser.

On Oct. 6, Pi Kappa Phi held a fundraiser in support of Arnold. The event included the chance to “pie-a-Pi,” sold raffle tickets for a gift basket, baked goods, and hot dogs and hamburgers, and featured Barnett at the center of it all with his pledge to ride a bike for 24 hours starting at seven that morning. Students were also given the chance to play “empathy corn hole” and be blindfolded while playing to show how something as simple as sight can be taken for granted.

The goal for Barnett was to raise $15,000 to completely replace Arnold’s eSight without any cost to his family.

“If every student gave $2, we’d hit $15,000,” Barnett said. “That’s a soda. That would give him the ability to see.”

Pi Kappa Phi’s philanthropy supports The Ability Experience, an organization that seeks to benefit people with mental or physical handicaps, and Barnett said he felt Arnold’s situation was a perfect fit for the fraternity’s philanthropic mission.

A Pi Kappa Phi member works the grill during the fundraiser.

A Pi Kappa Phi member works the grill during the fundraiser.

“I didn’t know what it was I wanted to do, but I wanted to do something,” he said. “Especially with One TROY, One Family going around right now, we have to show that we can’t just talk about it and use it with football. We have to be about it.”

Arnold told the Troy Messenger that he was amazed and humbled by the show of support from students.

“Most of these kids don’t know me and never will and some are my students and they still come out and participate,” Arnold said. “It says a lot about the caliber of people here and the feeling of family that the university tries to promote. [Barnett] mentioned to me about a week ago that this is something he’d like to do, but I didn’t realize it was going to turn into something this big.”

A GoFundMe page in support of the campaign will continue to collect funds through Oct. 14.