On Sunday, 300 people gathered in the Nichols Arboretum for a 5K in support of the Josh E. Levine Foundation, an organization now working to raise awareness about the dangers of co-ingestion and alter the drinking culture among college and high school students.
Josh Levine, who graduated from the University in 2014, passed away the summer after his graduation after he co-ingested alcohol and Adderall.
Organized and sponsored by the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, the Delta Gamma sorority and the Theta Chi fraternity, the event raised more than $1,800 for the foundation.
Levine’s mother, Julie Buckner, the president and founder of the Josh E. Levine Foundation and a University alum, began the 5K with an emotional speech about her son, noting that the day marked exactly 69 weeks since his passing.
“We’re all here today because we want to prevent more tragedies,” Buckner said. “We all know, here on a college campus, that there are so many episodes every single night, and particularly on weekends, that are so preventable, and that’s what we’re here to do.”
Ultimately, she said, she’d like to see the binge-drinking culture shift on college campuses.
“I just want us to look out for each other more, to be more educated, to be more knowledgeable, to be more of a united community in preventing tragedies, and this is what we’re going for,” she said.
Sunday’s event was a culmination of the joint effort of LSA junior Hailey Olds, vice president of campus relations for AGD, and LSA junior Caroline Alford, vice president of the Panhellenic Association for DG. The two Greek organizations partnered this semester as part of the Panhellenic Association’s new “sister sorority” initiative, which pairs two sororities on campus in an effort to get to know each other better.
“We picked a theme of alcohol and drug awareness,” Alford said. “Obviously, the Josh E. Levine Foundation has quite a presence on campus, so we thought it would be meaningful.”
The two contacted Levine’s fraternity, Theta Chi, and member Brett Karpinos, an Engineering junior, stepped up to help them plan it.
“My older brother was one of Josh’s good friends, so I was like all right, I’ll do it,” Karpinos said. “Josh was a senior when I was a freshman, so I got to know him pretty well.”
This year, University officials have rolled out several new initiatives to curb dangerous alcohol consumption on campus, including an policy to notify the parents of first-year students who rack up multiple alcohol or drug violations, and a push for increased Division of Public Safety and Security engagement off campus.
Kinesiology junior Kenneth Taras, former president of Theta Chi, ran to support Buckner in her efforts.
“A lot of us in Theta Chi, all of us are really passionate about this,” Taras said.
Buckner expressed said she was humbled by the outpouring of support at the event.
“I think it’s great that Greek organizations are leading this today, and I hope that there will be more events on this issue that are led by Greek life in the future,” Buckner said.
Alford said the sororities hope to host the 5K again next year.
“There’s hope to make this sort of a sustainable thing in the future going forward, sort of an annual thing between our chapters,” she said.