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Pike Brother Helps Raise Awareness and Promote Research for ALS

Like many brothers, Harvey Mackler '72 looks fondly on his time as an active part of the Beta Pi Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha. However, his connection to Pike is stronger than ever in his dedication to working with the fraternity alumni association and benefitting Pikes and sufferers of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a progressive, neurodegenerative disease.

Harvey pledged Pike in 1972, when he was a sophomore earning his Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at U Penn. His motivations were social but also practical in nature.

"There were a group of ten or fifteen of us who had gravitated together and were all rushing together. We knew each other from the Freshman dorms and we were all trying to figure out where we wanted to pledge, not only because of the desire to join a fraternity but because we needed to figure out where we were going to live by November," Harvey said. "Back then there was no guarantee of staying in the dorms and we would need to get our situation figured out or start to look for an apartment to rent in West Philadelphia."

As is often the case with brothers, the decision came down to a matter of a personality fit with the brothers. Harvey was impressed with the diversity and attitudes of the membership.

"One of the guys in our group was from Chicago and he knew Bruce Wilson '71, a Pike brother who was also from Chicago. Back then all the fraternities had open parties, so we got to know all of the major possibilities, but we found we had the best fit with Beta Pi. It was a great mix of brothers – athletes, scholars, and people like me who were in between. It was a diverse group."

Once Harvey became a brother, he quickly found that Pike was a major part of his life at U Penn.

"I was a very active member though I didn't hold any major offices. I was involved in the Dance Marathon supporting Cystic Fibrosis research that the chapter supported in 1974. I remember we had the dancers sleep at our house and we did raise a sizable sum of money. We were committed to the community."

Harvey recalled lots of great road trips but particularly bringing brothers home for Jewish holidays regardless of their own religions, a unique opportunity to share across borders of background and religion.

"There was a spirit of togetherness and strong fraternal bonds that I find are very still as strong today as they were when we were at U Penn," Harvey said.

Forming New Bonds through Brotherhood

In the past decade, Harvey has found a new bond with his fraternity through his efforts to support a charitable cause and his younger brother, and fellow Pike, Scott A. Mackler, who suffers from ALS. Harvey helped to found and continues to head the Scott A Mackler MD PhD 5K Walk/Run, which is now going into its 11th year. The fraternity has been an important part of supporting the event from the very beginning.

"We were blessed to have talented leaders from my time as an active Pike," Harvey said. "Around the year 2000, one of those brothers, Joel Catania '71, had started a Yahoo Group to reconnect the brothers. We were sharing our stories and eventually I brought up the idea of putting together an event to support ALS and my own brother and straight out of the shoot there was tremendous support."

The event takes place in October every year in Newark, DE. Harvey helps to charter buses to transport participants and Pike brothers show their support by participating and by making a pledge for each kilometer. The local Pike chapter in Delaware also helps with set up and logistics.

Harvey's remains a very active alumnus and has recently helped to found the Tampa Bay Pi Kappa Alpha Alum Association, a group for Pike brothers regardless of the school they attended. He also continues to donate financially to the fraternity.

"I believe alumni should donate their time but should donate money as well," Harvey said. "It's a circle of life – you don't want to be the one to break the circle. People who came before us were there for us and that money helps do a lot of good things for undergrads. I choose to support it and believe everyone should within their ability."

Harvey runs a business providing emblematic jewelry including many of the specialty items used by the national fraternity. He has two adult children, Jessica and Hillary.