There are role models in life and then there are people you can follow in their footsteps. When working as the Director of Development for the Phi Kappa Tau Foundation, one of my most exciting moments was to meet Paul Newman. I was excited not to meet a world-famous actor, but rather a world-famous philanthropist.
Mr. Newman was a member of Phi Kappa Tau and because of his leadership, Phi Kappa Tau adopted the Hole in the Wall Camps as the national philanthropy. These remarkable camps provide opportunities for children battling chronic and life-threatening illnesses to attend summer camp and have a normal experience yet still receive state-of-the-art medical care. I heard yesterday during an interview with Newman's best friend for 50+ years, AE Hotchner, that with the development of Newman's Own, more than $330 million has been contributed to various charities.
I had the privilege of volunteering at Camp Boggy Creek in Florida several times. I visited the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut and had the honor to attend both the ground breaking and the grand opening of the Victory Junction Gang Camp in North Carolina. With the support of Phi Kappa Tau's Foundation Board of Directors, I established a scholarship program for brothers who would work or volunteer their time to serve as counselors and activity specialists at one of the camps. I think the proudest moment of my career was learning that because of PKT's commitment to the camps, it quickly became the number one source of male volunteers, a need that was in great demand.
There were countless precious moments that the camps provided these young men. To say that it was life changing is not an understatement. These Phi Tau's went to camp as boys but returned as men, forever impacted by the experiences they had working with children. To know that I played a role in getting that program firmly established is one of the highlights of my career and certainly a legacy I am indeed proud to have left the Fraternity I loved as if I were a member of it myself.
I met Paul Newman on several occasions. He was a shy man and not one for special accolades. He told me how proud he was of the brothers who came to camp and was genuinely touched that Phi Tau was so involved with the camps he founded.
He was an incredible philanthropist. He gave because it was the right thing to do, not because he was getting anything in return. He embodied generosity, creativity, dedication and hard work. He made a difference for thousands of children and equally as many volunteers and staff members. I am forever grateful to have met him and to have been a part of the Hole in the Wall Camp experience.
This video was made by Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity as a tribute to one of their most distinguished alumni, Paul Newman, upon his death. I am blessed to have been associated with PKT and treasure the moments that I was part of the staff. Hoo Rah, my brothers!