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How PIKE Brothers Continue to Help Him in His Fight Against ALS

Harvey Mackler ’72 Discovers True Power of BrotherhoodHarvey Mackler’s fundraising work to support ALS patients—as well as his commitment to PiKA—is a well-known story, but we recently caught up with him to learn about his most recent progress and how Beta Pi brothers are contributing to his success.

If you haven’t been keeping up with Harvey’s work, now’s your chance to learn more and find out how you can make an impact.

If you have a story about how Beta Pi has impacted your life, please share it with us by emailing alumninews@affinityconnection.com.

“He’s all our brother, I just happen to be a biological brother,” says Harvey Mackler ’72. He’s talking about Scott Mackler M.D., Ph.D, ’77, a physician-scientist at UPenn’s Pearlman School of Medicine who died in 2013 from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Both brothers were embraced by the Pike community after Scott’s diagnosis. “It did help resurrect a lot of old friendships,” Harvey says, noting that many of the alumni were connected through a Yahoo group organized by Joel Catania ’71. Harvey leaned on that support to help establish the Scott Mackler 5K Run/Walk. Scott was a serious athlete prior to his diagnosis—he played soccer at Penn and participated in both the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon. Harvey established the event to raise funds for the ALS Association of Greater Philadelphia’s Scott A. Mackler Assistive Technology Program, which provides patients with the necessary tools to live independently.

“We’ve had unbelievable participation from the brothers,” Harvey says. “The first year, I went out to alumni brothers who were interested in Scott and asked if they’d pledge a certain amount for every kilometer that a Pike walked.”

After receiving an enthusiastic response for pledges, Harvey directly invited the entire membership of two local undergraduate chapters to the walk, resulting in more than 100 Pikes that first year. Close to $19,000 was raised, and the brothers who pledged without expecting such a response made good on their donations. “It reaffirmed my belief and partnership with the fraternity,” Harvey says.

The memorial walk/run has become somewhat of a reunion for Penn Pikes, with several alumni traveling from the New York and Virginia areas to attend with current members of the Beta Pi chapter, who charter a bus from campus for the event. Harvey gets checks from alumni going back several decades who want to contribute in Scott’s memory.

While much of Harvey’s philanthropic work is focused on ALS-related funds, he’s made sure that Scott’s legacy lives on at Pi Kappa Alpha through two recently-established scholarships. The Scott A. Mackler Medical School Memorial Scholarship provides a $3,000 per year award to any Pike who is already attending or plans to attend medical school. The Scott Mackler True Grit Award is specific to Beta Pi and provides an undergraduate “who gives 110 percent,” in Harvey’s words, a $750 award. Both awards are administered by PiKA national, which promotes and reviews applications for the recognition. The first awards for both funds were made during the past years.

“It was important to have these scholarships through PIKE because we were both firmly committed to it,” Harvey says. “One of my goals is to encourage others to do the same.”

Looking back on the brotherhood, Harvey believes that the lasting friendships of the fraternity are its most valuable benefit. It’s something that he’s learned both during his time at Beta Pi and, more importantly, in his experience as an alum who’s gained so much from his brothers, both Greek and biological.