Dollars raised through the Iron Phi program equally support two major beneficiaries:
- The Live Like Lou Foundation and its mission to 'leave ALS better than we found it.' Specifically, Iron Phi dollars support ALS research conferences, summer camp experiences for children from ALS families, Iron Horse Scholarships for ALS dependents as they pursue their higher education dreams, and important ALS research.
- Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity and its mission to help individuals 'Become the Greatest Versions of Themselves.' Specifically, Iron Phi dollars raised by American participants help fund leadership development programs through the Fraternity's Leadership & Ethics Academy and funds raised by Canadian participants support the Phi Delta Theta Canadian Foundation.
Neil Alexander was a devoted husband, father, brother and friend. A lawyer, life-long Pittsburgh Pirates fan, brother of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, and unabashed devotee of Neil Diamond. In 2011, at the age of 47, Neil was diagnosed with the fatal disease ALS. Three years later he died from it.
But that’s not the end of Neil’s story. Neil was determined – from the moment he heard the words “You have ALS” - that his certain death from the disease would not be his final chapter. Like his hero and Phi Delta Theta brother Lou Gehrig before him, Neil wanted his young children, Abby and Patrick, to remember him as courageous, strong, and most importantly grateful for the life that he had lived.
Along with his wife Suzanne, and hundreds of family and friends, Neil established the grassroots effort ‘Live Like Lou’ in 2012. Through scores of lemonade stands, bike-a-thons, golf outings, swimming events and parties, they raised more than $4 million. With their funds they helped establish the $10 million Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research at The University of Pittsburgh’s Brain Institute, and an endowment to provide significant grants to ALS patients and their families in Western Pennsylvania. Neil always understood that the Live Like Lou effort would not help save his own life, but he wanted his lasting legacy to be that he left ALS better than he found it.
Today the spirit of Live Like Lou has evolved into the national, standalone non-profit entity The Live Like Lou Foundation, under the direction of the Live Like Lou Board of Trustees and in close partnership with The Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity, whose major philanthropic cause has always been ALS.
Phi Delta Theta was built on three pillars that haven’t budged an inch since the Fraternity was founded by “The Immortal Six” way back in 1848 at Miami University. The pillars are: The cultivation of friendship among its members, the acquirement individually of a high degree of mental culture, and the attainment personally of a high standard of morality. Shortened, Phi Delta Theta refers to the principles as friendship, sound learning, and rectitude.
Helping every individual to meet his true potential is the bedrock of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. By celebrating each person’s true self, and by learning from each other’s strengths while helping to improve each other’s weaknesses, every member of Phi Delta Theta develops into a greater version of himself than he could ever on his own. Rather than try to find young men to “mold” into some ideal, Phi Delta Theta celebrates the uniqueness of each individual and, through encouragement, values, example and brotherhood, empowers every brother to exceed his personal expectations.
ALS has always been an important cause for Phi Delta Theta, in honor of baseball Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, who was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity when he attended Columbia University! Over the past decade Phi Delta Theta members have raised millions of dollars for ALS, also known as ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’, and donated those funds to medical research to find a cure. Brothers have also volunteered countless hours helping patients and their families locally.