It is just about time for the 4th annual Nolan M. Burch Foundation Fundraiser.
It’s a night to remember and honor Nolan Burch.
Nolan was just 18 when he died after a fraternity hazing incident at West Virginia University. That was nearly four years ago.
For Nolan’s family – it’s been four very long years without their kind, funny and sweet Nolan, “He was just the best kid. I know a lot of people say that about their kids,” Kim Burch said of her son, “He truly was so special. He never left a room or a phone conversation without being the first to say I love you.”
At that fourth annual Nolan Burch Foundation fundraiser – they’ll be doing something else, too. They will be saving lives. That is their mission. Literally. The foundation’s goal is to educate high school and college students about the dangers of hazing, and to call 911 if they see someone drunk enough to require medical attention.
For TJ and Kim Burch, working to prevent other parents from feeling the same pain they feel every day really does keep them going, “He was always happy and smiling. He would do anything for anybody. That’s why it was so hard for us to wrap around our brains that nobody helped him.”
Nolan was a freshman when he died of alcohol poisoning after being given a bottle of whiskey to drink at a “big brother” event with Kappa Sigma. According to reports, after becoming incapacitated from drinking in just 90 minutes, Nolan was carried by fraternity brothers to a wooden table. The fraternity members didn’t call 911 until they saw him turning blue, at which point it was too late.
Nolan loved baseball and hockey. He loved his friends and his family. He loved life and he is greatly missed, “Doing this in Nolan’s name means the world to me, my husband and our daughter. It keeps the memory of Nolan alive in hopes that no one will ever forget.”
Kim says hearing stories about her son is truly a blessing, “I just recently got a letter from a young man who was attending Canisius High School when Nolan was a senior. At the time this young man was a freshman. He told me that he knew nobody and was pretty nervous those first few days of school. He said that Nolan approached him on the first day and told him that everything was gonna be ok and if he needed anything just come to him that he had his back. He said that nobody has ever don’t that for him. So, he went and got Nolan’s initials tattooed on his back. He said now I have his back.”
The young man was giving in death, too – giving the ultimate gift; the gift of life. His liver, 2 kidney and lungs were donated.
The Burch’s have met Michael the man who received Nolan’s lungs and there’s more, “We will be meeting Erin, his liver recipient for the first time believe it or not next week,” Kim says, “She was able to live out her dream of being a pilot because of her transplant. She now is a pilot for United Airlines.”
Kim Burch and her family never would have asked for this life. They would give anything if it could be different; if they could have Nolan back – but they know this is their path so they are working to ensure their son’s death has deep, real meaning that can and will lead to change. Thankfully, they are not on this journey alone. They are surrounded by an astonishing support system and carried by a mission. A mission to save lives.
Tragedies like Nolan’s death are disturbingly common in America. According to data compiled by Hank Nuwer, a journalism professor at Franklin College, more than 200 university students have died from hazing-related accidents in the United States since 1838—40 in the past decade alone. For the Burch family and many others, it’s a problem worth fighting for. It’s 200 too many.
TJ and Kim Burch have teamed up with the University of West Virginia, where their son died, to help stop hazing. They work with PUSH – Parents United 2 Stop Hazing, they hold fundraisers and blood drives in their son’s name. They can’t and don’t do it alone, “The community support is what has kept us going. Without that I don’t know where we would be. It’s been overwhelming in a good way.”
So remember, it is just about time for the 4th annual Nolan M. Burch Foundation Fundraiser.
It’s a night to remember and honor Nolan Burch. The young man always smiling – taken far too soon. It’s a night too, to save lives.
The event is November 17th from 5-9 p.m at Main-Transit Fire Hall, 6777 Main Street, Amherst. You can find more information on the foundation, the event or buy tickets at nmbfoundation.com