Kappa Sigmas don kilts during the Walk to Defeat ALS in California

by University Communications,

When Mark Hume ’94 first participated in the Walk to Defeat ALS in 2013, his team of family and friends raised $6,300 for the ALS Association of Orange County.

Determined to beat his record, Hume organized another team this year. This time, the As You Wish group donned kilts and raised $22,000 — more than any other team who took part in the Nov. 8 walk in Irving, Calif.

Hume, who was diagnosed with the progressive and fatal neuromuscular disease in 2012, is overjoyed by this achievement — especially since more than 30 of his Kappa Sigma brothers from Willamette University helped make it possible.

“People have asked me many times, ‘What was it like to have 30 of your oldest, best friends come from across the country to support you?’” Hume says.

“My answer is that it is thrilling, heartwarming, inspiring and just plain incredible. Seeing them all, reconnecting, laughing, talking intensely about important issues —it just leaves me with a permanent grin.”

Help from Afar

When Hume told his Kappa Sigma pledge brothers about this year’s ALS walk, he was hoping for contributions. He never expected them to travel to California to walk beside him.

But thanks to Erik Paulson ’84, they did just that. Paulson donated the use of two of his private jets to fly the alumni from the Northwest down to southern California.

“I never imagined that even one could manage the travel,” Hume says. “My pledge brother Joel Sims ’84 took this on as a mission and fired up my whole fraternity with the idea of supporting me in person as a group — and all while wearing kilts, no less!”

As the brothers arrived at their meeting spot, Sims says it was as if 30 years of separation were erased.

“As we slowly drew together, it was so cool to see the smiles, hugs and happiness of everyone renewing old friendships," Sims says. "Pictures, hugs, toasts and stories were swapped.”

Walking in Unison

As You Wish consisted of more than 100 walkers between the ages of 3 and 85, most of whom wore kilts. Several dogs and one potbelly pig also took part in the fundraiser. As a whole, the team spanned nearly 100 yards as they walked in unison.

“I can’t help but think we were a pretty entertaining show for those in attendance,” Hume says.

Three Willamette undergrad Kappa Sigmas, Mike Harder ’15, Nick Perkins ’15 and Garrett Maltzen ’15, also participated. Harder, whose father Tracy Toulou ’82 also walked as one of Hume’s brothers, says he was inspired by the multigenerational Kappa Sigma gathering.

“College is a time in your life when you get to make a lot of meaningful relationships, and in a fraternity, that bond is really long lasting,” Harder says. “The fact that one person who was experiencing hardship asked for help and received tenfold speaks to what a fraternity can be.”

Hume says he is grateful to all who walked and donated, brothers and non-brothers, as well as his wife Donna, his children and his mother Julia ’56.

“I have been truly and deeply moved and inspired by the unique and overwhelming support of my Willamette University Kappa Sigma brothers,” Hume says. “These moments will always be a source of joy for me.”

• Article by Emma Jonas ’15, creative writing major