Honoring a fallen friend
Matthew Scarpati was a 19-year-old sophomore economics major at the University at Buffalo when a drunken motorcyclist tragically killed him last July. Scarpati was struck while riding his bike on the Wantagh bike path near his home on Long Island, N.Y.
This Sunday, his fraternity brothers from Pi Lambda Phi are honoring him in the first Matthew Scarpati Memorial Walk.
According to his brothers at Pi Lambda Phi, Scarpati was a friendly, genuine person and a great asset to their organization.
"He was just a great guy with many leadership qualities, and a good head on his shoulders. All the brothers have definitely felt the deep loss of a friend this past year" said Rob Murphy, a senior political science major and president of Pi Lambda Phi.
Scarpati was an avid biker who loved to be outdoors and had a love for soccer. As a tribute, Scarpati's brothers decided to host an event to raise money for the Matthew Scarpati scholarship fund and bring awareness to campus about the dangers of drunk driving.
The 5K run and walk will start at 10 a.m. and take route around Putnam Way. Members of the community can register the morning of the race for a $10 fee at the Special Events field outside of the Student Union.
The Student Association donated money for each participant to receive a free T-shirt upon registration. Participants will also be able to enjoy free food and beverage after the race.
"This is a great way for the brothers, friends and members of the UB community to get together, raise awareness about a serious issue and have a great time remembering Matt," said Kyle Berninger, a sophomore mechanical engineering major and officer-scribe of Pi Lambda Phi.
Murphy, Berninger and over 30 other Pi Lambda Phi brothers are hoping to raise a good amount of money and get a great turn out from the student body. A group discount of $5 will be offered for those who bring 15 or more people.
"We want people to know that 100 percent of the donations are going directly to the Matthew Scarpati Scholarship fund," Murphy said. "The brothers and I want to be able to give a large check to Matt's parents and really positively impact the lives of other kids with the [money] that is raised."
Scarpati's parents created the fund to award scholarships to high school students who embody their son's spirit in his hometown. They wish to support future students who share the same great characteristics that made Scarpati an amazing friend, son, student and athlete.
This Sunday, they will attend the event to see the celebration of their son's life.
James Ryan, the driver of the motorcycle, was reportedly charged with a DWI, vehicular manslaughter and reckless endangerment. The Pi Lambda Phi brothers are striving to prevent others from being in Scarpati's situation by promoting education and awareness on drinking and driving.
"We really want to see change and activism here at UB" Berninger said. "It would be fantastic to see S.A.D. D. (Students Against Drunk Driving) start here on campus. [We hope to promote at the race] anything to make college students realize they need to be aware of their surroundings and be careful when drinking alcoholic beverages."
Other schools across the nation have already implemented programs to keep students safe while consuming alcoholic beverages.
"At Boston College, they have a designated drivers program where kids can sign up to be volunteer drivers for the night. I believe UB could really benefit from this service. Our fraternity rotates designated drivers every time the brothers go out," Murphy said. "It works well and this is something I would like to see prevalent not only in Greek Life, but on the rest of campus as well."
Prizes will be raffled off at the event and the Donate Life campaign will be present, among other vendors. All current Pi Lambda Phi brothers and many other UB alumni will be in attendance, along with other Greek organizations. A representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving will speak to kick off the event.
While Sunday will be the first Matthew Scarpati Memorial Run, it's expected this will not be the only race in his honor.