Alpha Tau Omega fraternity will host an event March 30 to raise funds for a memorial bench in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens to honor junior Michael Doherty, who died in May.
The fundraiser—titled “A Day for Doh Boy,” a play on Doherty's nickname—will take place on March 30, and will begin with a barbecue on Craven Quad catered by Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken. Later that Friday, the event will move to Triangle Sportsplex Ice Rink, where Doherty spent much of his time at Duke practicing with the Club Hockey team.
“It’ll be really awesome to have the event at a place where he spent so much of his time and life,” said junior Kyle Baer, ATO president.
The event will include food, ice hockey and skating, as well as a performance by a cappella group Speak of the Devil.
“The whole point of the event is to just remember Mike and celebrate him, to come together and remember how he touched us and all the fun times we had,” senior Frederick Lang, an ATO member, said.
In Fall 2017, the fraternity established the Michael Doherty Memorial Endowment Fund to create a permanent annual scholarship for students in the Duke Pratt School of Engineering.
“We exceeded our goal of raising $100,000 for students who embodied Michael’s values and parts of him. The outreach was amazing and we raised $120,000,” Baer said.
Baer explained that the bench will be an opportunity for members of the fraternity, especially those who were not on campus for the memorial last Fall, to find closure and contribute to Doherty’s legacy.
“The bench will be a gift to his family and a permanent physical memorial since it was obvious he touched so many lives in a meaningful way,” Baer said. “Through it, everyone, especially the people in his pledge class, can contribute to his memory.”
Baer emphasized that the goal of contributing something meaningful to Doherty’s parents, who will be there for the event, by building the memorial on campus.
Doherty, who had completed his second year in the mechanical engineering program prior to his death, went missing for several days after attempting to walk home from a party near his Franklin, Mass. home. Authorities later ruled his death an accident.
In the midst of the tragedy, working to honor his memory has brought his fraternity together in a powerful way.
“If you’re in an organization, losing a member is just really difficult to go through, and being able to rally around each other is so important. This has been a really powerful example of brotherhood, it’s an example of what a fraternity is supposed to be—when something bad happens, we all come together and love each other,” Lang said.
For the members of Doherty’s fraternity, the ultimate goal behind “A Day for Doh Boy” is to honor who Doherty was, and to create a lasting physical commemoration for him on campus.
“Mike embodied being a good person, and at the event people will hear about how he lived his life,” Baer said. “He was one of the most sincere, genuine, barefacedly happy guys I’ve ever known.”
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