The Martin Surma Story

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March 14, 2014 was a day that changed many lives of the Beta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi. Martin Surma (a pledge at the time) was critically injured in a freak accident that left him with a fractured skull, massive concussion, bleeding, and swelling of the brain (we want to emphasize that there was absolutely no alcohol involved in this situation).  He was air-lifted to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne and taken to the STICU (Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit). This left many of the brothers in a state of shock and worry. Would he survive? Would he ever be the same if he did survive? If he recovers, will his parents still allow him to come back? What would his parents think? Would they blame the fraternity for any reason? So many questions left unanswered.

When I arrived at the hospital that evening I found several brothers in the lobby along with his parents having a very uplifting conversation considering the circumstances. Martin’s family lives 2.5 hours away from Trine U. After speaking with the parents for about 30 minutes or so, the surgeon came out and informed us that they needed to remove a piece of his skull to relieve the pressure being caused by the brain swelling. This surgery was expected to take at least 3 hours. We were informed that the next 48 hours were very critical. The brothers left the hospital that evening with heavy hearts but with a plan to provide as much help and support as possible.

I arrived the next day at the hospital and virtually every single brother was in attendance in the lobby alongside with several administrators from the school. On the table in the lobby the brothers had provided a very large lunch for Martin’s family. I walked in with a sense of pride for my fellow brothers. They weren’t going to let this situation beat them. They were determined to help Martin’s family out in any way they could. We were then informed that Martin was starting to move around and even attempting to grab things out of the nurse’s hands. While we took this as a good sign, we were informed that this was actually a fairly common occurrence with head injury victims. The initial prognosis was that he could be in the hospital for at least 3-4 months even in the best case scenario.

At this point, the brothers started talking about fundraising. The brothers started a charity online. They started a campaign on social media, #StarkeCountyStrong. They ordered wristbands to “sell” for donations, as well as t-shirts to help generate funds. Bound and determined, the brothers banded together to help our extended “family” in need.

Throughout the next several weeks Martin made daily progress. He kept reaching milestones quicker than the doctors had anticipated. His progression went from responding to stimuli, acknowledging commands, talking, and breathing on his own. Every obstacle thrown at him, Martin overcame with a determined tenacity. He was determined, but at the same time, frustrated the poor nurses with his antics. On one occasion, a couple undergrads and I were visiting with him. After we left the room we heard a beeping and one of the nurses ran into the room behind us and yelled, “Martin, sit back down!”

Within a month, Martin was deemed ready for therapy and was moved out of the STICU. Once again, Martin moved quickly through this therapy. When they would ask him to solve simple math problems he would just roll his eyes and complete a calculus problem. (Martin is studying Electrical Engineering) Within a couple weeks Martin was able to go back home. Then on April 23, 2014 Martin showed up at the Old Gal to surprise his brothers. Walking, talking, acting, like nothing happened. The undergrads were overjoyed to see their brother again.

On April 25th of 2014, several student organizations hosted a 5k Color Run with all the proceeds going to the Surma family. There was a presentation before the start of the race in which the brothers presented a check to the Surma family. Martin’s sister, Katie accepted the check for $9,000. This was the money raised not only from the Color Run but also from the website fundraisers.

On May 7th Martin will undergo an MRI to determine whether he can get his skull replaced and thus ending his journey of recovery.

 

We have been informed by his parents that he will be returning to Trine University. Initially, his parents were going to send him to a local community college when/if he recovered. However, because of the support they received from the undergraduates and alumni, they changed their minds. They decided that he needs to return. So, with any luck he will be back at Trine University in the fall to start off the new school year with his brothers, as an active full member. The accident may have cracked his skull but it couldn’t break his heart and soul.

I was witness to the generosity of the undergrad brothers at this time and I for one am very proud of them. Every day there was someone at the hospital checking on Martin, lending support and keeping his family company. This is a testament to the bond and love that brothers share. We may have our problems at times but we will always be there for each other in times of need.

Alpha Sig for Life!

 

A Note from the Family:

We truly appreciate the support the Beta Omicron Chapter gave us in our time of need. We can’t thank you enough for all the hard work, prayers, and monetary donations given to our family. We have been truly blessed to have such great people in our lives. We are proud of these young men, as should all of you. Please accept our sincerest thanks.

The Alumni Relations Committee (WEBB)

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As our Alumni Association (AA ( no pun intended)) continued its effort to streamline and reorganize under the leadership of Gene Tierney #850, Nick Santino #657 and Tom Alspaugh #840 were ask to officially assume the rol3 as the AA's Alumni Relations Committee. As Co-Chairs Nick and Tom (aka: OddBall) went to work organizing their team's 2014 effort to Welcome Every Brother Back to Homecoming. Monthly conference calls are used to coordinate with the AA and House Board and other committees, especially the Homecoming Events Committee and the Communications Committee. The involvement of brothers and their coordination at these early stages of the planning of Homecoming is expected to produce a quality Homecoming experience.

We hope you saw our recent Save the Date email indicating Homecoming 2014 is October 2nd, 3rd and 4th (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). We have tried very hard to stay in touch with those Brothers without email address by sending them post cards. Please remind any Brother that says they are receiving post cards from us to please provide us their email address. The high cost of postage is affecting our ability to communicate with them. All Alumni updates can now be entered on our new website.

In the months ahead you will again be seeing our regular emails. One of the most effective ways that Homecoming attendance has raised in recent years is what we call "stirring the pot”. This is a Brother that sends our emails on to their mates from their college days and asks how life is treating them, organizing   a small group to rent a cabin at the lakes for Homecoming, or more often, bringing up an infamous escapade, etc. Please communicate with your Brotherhood. It is fun and is a small fountain of youth. It is also is the building blocks of our Brotherhood success.

We'll Talk Soon,

Nick and OddBall

Co-Chairmen

Alumni Relations Committee

[email protected]

[email protected]

 

A Picnic Table Journey

Nick Santino

April 16, 2014

A PICNIC TABLE JOURNEY

It was fall of 2011 when I called brother, DAVE MOON #637 and asked him to meet me in Angola. Dave and I roomed together at the “old Gal” located at 113 North Superior and have been long time friends ever since.  We had not been back to Angola in many years and we decided to do a return visit.

WOW! – does not begin to express what we saw and visited. It was beyond any thoughts or visions we had in mind. The city of Angola had changed and grown into a very prosperous city and the college had transformed into an Institution of PRIDE and high EXPECTATIONS. I was proud to say I was a graduate of Tri State College (now Trine University) class of 1965.

We visited the current house and it is with regret that I say “it was extremely disappointing”. The undergraduates were super but the house itself was neither conducive nor competitive for Greek life on campus. I left the house that day knowing that if a new house was not built – Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity would soon be nonexistent at Trine University.

As Dave and I traveled to the old watering holes we once visited, where we took those long needed breaks, from studying the files supplied by AJ Paul and others, I realized something had to been done to keep our fraternity on campus.  We returned to the Holiday Inn Express in Fremont, Indiana and were sitting at a “PICNIC TABLE” enjoying a beverage or two, when I said to Dave – Let’s do something where we get as many brothers as we can back to Homecoming 2012. The purpose would be to reminisce about the old times and then talk to them about building a new house. The look on his face was first disbelief about what I just said and then it changed to the excitement of OK let’s do it.

We developed some ideas and realized we would need some additional help. We immediately contacted LARRY THOMAS #695 (my little-little brother) and Brian Stebelton # 643 (a pledge brother of Dave’s pledge class) and they also got excited. It is with their help we put together a plan for Homecoming 2012 which now looking back has become an ALPHA SIG fairy tale. The results of our efforts combined with the help of many other brothers produced –

  • The largest Homecoming to date with an attendance doubling any previous HC.
  • The presentation of concepts being considered for a NEW house
  • The telling of stories that brought back many “Memories”
  • An Alumni Association led by GENE TIERNEY #850 that is strong and committed.
  • An “OFFICIAL”  Beta Omicron Alpha Sig web site:  alphasigsattrine.org
  • An effective alumni communication group led by brother Tom Alsbaugh # 840
  • Homecoming 2013 which broke the attendance record of HC 2012
  • A ground breaking ceremony of the NEW house at Homecoming 2013
  • Phase #1 of a fund raising program that at this point has raised $700,000
  • And most importantly – lots of FUN and MEMORIES for everyone.

All of this because of a conversation of two Alpha Sig brothers sitting around a

“PICNIC TABLE”.

As exciting and unbelievable as these past two years have been, our job is not done. We need  to do with your “HELP” the following so we can all say “WELL DONE”  as we walk up to the front door of our NEW house at Homecoming 2015.

  • Plan on attending Homecoming 2014. The dates are October 2nd, 3rd and 4th. I can guarantee it will be the largest and most exciting Homecoming you have ever attended. (if it will be your first – get ready for Fun and Memories)
  • Book your Hotel reservations now. Special rates are available to all Alpha Sigs. Use the following link -   Alpha Sig HE14 or call the Holiday Inn Express 260-833-6464 and ask for Danielle. (There is a Notre Dame Football game that weekend and rooms will be limited). We have 60 rooms reserved for Alpha Sigs.
  •  Visit our new “OFFICIAL” web site (alphasigsattrine.org) every month for current updates and information regarding Homecoming 2014, the progress of the NEW house, alumni news, plus pictures of the past and much more.
  • HELP raise the final $250,000 needed for the completion of The NEW House so our new pledges and undergraduates will be debt free when they move in the house in SEPTEMBER 2015. Pledge forms (a few plans offered for your consideration) are available on the OFFICIAL web site.
  • Update the alumni data base contact information on yourself and any other brother you may know.
  • Get two brothers of your era to meet you at Homecoming 2014. Contact information for brothers is available on request.
  • Let me know you are coming to Homecoming 2014.

I know that if we work TOGETHER we can make ALPHA SIG’s the number 1 fraternity on campus again.

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You can get any information you need by going directly to our “OFFICIAL’ web site or by contacting Gene Tierney, Tom Alspaugh or myself directly.

Nick Santino #657

161 South Avenue

Newark New York 14513

Home 315-331-6293

Cell 585-329-6425

email:  [email protected]

 

                                                THE ΑΣΦ HOMECOMING IS

OCTOBER  2, 3 & 4,  2014

 

I will be at the “PICNIC TABLE” waiting for you!

Color Run Fund Raiser for Martin Surma

Block Party

On Friday, April 25th at 5 PM, a color run will take place to the first 300 Trine students who sign up. The registration for the event is $10. All the proceeds will be going to Martin and his family. Shirts and wristbands were also sold that went towards Martin. Various other donations have come from the community and Trine.  We have raised $5,500 for Martin since his accident.