Zeta Beta Tau exemplifies brotherly love with GoFundMe for sick brother


Brian Choquet , Photo Editor

AMHERST — As Jonathan Townsend laid in his hospital bed, where he once needed the assistance of a breathing tube, his fraternity Zeta Beta Tau created a GoFundMe page that, as of Nov. 10, has raised $14,000.

While Oct. 24 was a warm and unassuming Tuesday for most University of Massachusetts Amherst students, Townsend was diagnosed with two rare and potentially fatal diseases — meningococcemia and Purpura fulminans.

Meningococcemia is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis entering the bloodstream where it then spreads and multiplies, causing bleeding into the skin and organs. Purpura fulminans is a disorder that causes blood clotting in the limbs, and can result in the limbs being lost. Townsend was at risk of losing both his feet until he had surgery to amputate his toes, according to blog posts from his sister, Allie Townsend.

To help alleviate Townsend’s medical bills, his fraternity brothers created a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe on Oct. 31. The $14,000 was raised through 278 donors, including a $200 donation from fellow UMass fraternity Theta Chi and $285 from the sorority Chi Omega.

The campaign is under ZBT brother Jordan Lavenda’s name, but ZBT president Jacob Hayutin says it was a fraternity-wide effort.

“Immediately we wanted to know what we could do to help him,” said Hayutin.

In just one day, the page reached its original goal of $2,500 and began trending on GoFundMe. After six days, the campaign reached its second milestone of $10,000. ZBT has now raised their goal to $25,000, and according to Hayutin, will continue to raise money and spread awareness for the campaign.

“He does so much good around this campus and for that reason, I think people should be as generous as they can be in supporting Jonathan,” said Hayutin.

ZBT also plans on organizing a fundraising event for Townsend in the upcoming weeks.

A blog with daily morning and evening updates about Townsend’s condition was started by his sister on Oct. 29; six days after his diagnoses. According to posts made Nov. 9, Townsend is making small steps to recovery, including being able to stand and sitting in a chair.

Members of the UMass community have flooded both the blog and the GoFundMe with supportive comments offering their thoughts and prayers.

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