The following is a story written by Colton Terhune from the Pi-Epsilon chapter at Christian Brothers University.
If I am going to tell this story, I should start from the beginning. My fiancé and I met about four years when she transferred to Christian Brothers University as a sophomore. She became a member of Zeta Tau Alpha women's fraternity, and that was how we met. We were friends for three years, both liking the other and never saying it. Until a year ago, we were both at our annual Pi-Ep TKE teeter-totter event and we just knew. We got together soon after and very quickly realized this was something very different.
A year later I decided she was the woman that I was meant to spend the rest of my life with. But I found myself in a debacle, how do I make this one moment a memory that will last a lifetime? Then it came to me that every special memory I had of college included my brothers. My best friends are TKE's, my grandfather is an honorary, and all the best times I had were shared with them. So, why would I not want this moment to be shared with them, too? So I had a start to my plan, first on the list was selecting the perfect event.
In our chapter it is tradition that the past Prytanis, who happened to be my best friend JD, plans our Red Carnation Ball. As the past Epiprytanis, I was JD's go-to man when he needed help. Naturally, he called and I was more than happy to help. I told him my grandmother volunteered to make baskets for centerpieces and table gifts plus a few big ones to give away for door prizes. It was perfect! Hope would get one of those door prizes and with a little help from JD I could ask her.. I told JD of my plan and he said, "Well, if that is going to happen, I am getting a tux and you should, too. Let look sharp as hell!" Now the plan really was starting to come together.
It may be my southern raising, but I feel that all gentlemen should talk with their girlfriend's father, before asking to marry them. So, I went to Hope's father and asked, and he told me it would be an honor. Then I told him of the plan and what was going to happen, and his only response was, "I wish I could be there to see that." Hope's father it no ordinary man, he is simultaneously one of the goofiest and smartest men I have ever met, he also happens to be the scientific director of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. To me, he represented everything I desire to see in a TKE, strong moral character, smart, charitable, honest, humble, and an embodiment of our values; love, charity and esteem. So next meeting I asked the chapter if they would like to initiate him as an honorary, and received a unanimous yes. After I gave him his bid to join our sacred bond, he simply replied, "I am honored. Yes, I would love to be part of this and share this with you." I let him know that we would initiate him the same day as RCB, and he more than welcome to join. He canceled a large meeting in Philadelphia so he could be our keynote speaker at RCB. He was thrilled to be able to touch the lives of the men that he now called his brothers, and see his daughter get engaged. I decided to make it a family affair, so along came my grandfather and my grandmother, who were both were in on the plan.
On day of April 18th, 2015 I met with JD early that morning to start setting up. After months of meticulous planning and work the big day had arrived. That night, I set up the buffet and got the event going with JD,. Finally it was time to give out the awards and, most importantly, the baskets at each table. Hope had absolutely no idea what was about to happen. We gave the sweetheart her basket and sang her the song, then gave away the final basket to a 'random' winner. JD called Hope Gilbertson, stalled for a second while I got down on one knee, then he said, "Hope, I am going to need you to turn around for me."
I don't think I have ever heard so many TKE's scream so loud at once. The whole room roared as she turned around to face me. None of my chapter except five people knew what was going to happen. By the look on her face, I knew I caught her off guard, and I could also tell that it was a definite ‘yes'. I asked her, got the best answer you could ask for, and then JD offered up a toast of champagne. I walked proudly off the stage with my sweetheart. Content, proud, and happy that I got to share one of the most special moments of my life with all my brothers.
Now that I am graduating, and becoming an alumnus of my chapter, I think back to all the events that made TKE special to me, this was just one of many. I know for a fact that when I was that nervous freshman on the first day of rush I chose the right fraternity. I am a TEKE, and I am damn proud of it.