BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Happening Tuesday, UAB’s Sigma Chi fraternity is hosting a blood drive to honor their late fraternity brother Chris Sterley.
Sterley died three summers ago at Lake Wedowee after jumping off a rock into the water. His body was recovered two days later.
Sigma Chi’s Philanthropy Chair, Jonathan Boyd, said their fraternity feels this blood drive is the best possible way they can help continue Sterley’s legacy.
Sterley’s family said saving lives is what he did. Sterley graduated from nursing school just before his death.
Boyd said Sterley was at UAB before his time, but that he still feels a special connection to him. Sterley served in Boyd’s exact position as Philanthropy Chair just a few years prior.
“This is my first one planning and I looked back at our notes and our Google Drive and I actually saw a lot of his stuff that he made,” said Boyd. “So, he actually helped me plan this one inadvertently. Everybody I talked to that actually knew him had nothing but good things to say. So, it’s kind of an honor to be able to succeed him in this role.”
Sterley’s mom, Kristine Dolly, says he is shining from above, and that he would be so proud of his fraternity hosting a blood drive.
Dolly said Sterley was heavily involved at UAB as a nursing student, cheer leader and fraternity leader. She added the support they’ve seen from Sterley’s former UAB family is unbelievable.
“UAB was Christopher’s stomping grounds and he helped found this Sigma Chi Chapter at UAB,” said Dolly. “He’s one of the founding fathers. And so, for them to continue honoring him in ways, scholarships and blood drives, it just amazes me. I’m very honored.”
“It’s just seeing that crowd there and realizing today that having a sense of community means a lot and you’re never alone,” added Sterley’s cousin, Elijah McFarland.
Heading into Labor Day weekend, Boyd said they also hope to bring awareness to the importance of lake safety.
McFarland said Sterley’s story is a reminder that something as simple as having fun in the water can be taken for granted.
“And the dangers that come with anything, everyday driving,” said McFarland. “You know, I think it’s just important to live every day. It’s not good to live in fear, but it’s also not good to live recklessly.”
“Christopher was a lifeguard,” said Dolly. “It was just a very tragic accident. Tragic accidents do happen, so just be safe.”
The blood drive will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the campus green. Free food, t-shirts, and gift cards will be given to those who give a donation.