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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI fraternity president organizes Oct. 16 softball tourney to honor late father

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

To benefit fight against lung, liver disease caused by Alpha –1

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 13, 2005 – For years, Josh Ratner and his father shared a love of baseball, especially going to see the New York Yankees.

But on April 18, Josh’s 48-old father, Michael, died from Alpha – 1 emphysema, a genetic form of the lung disease.

Now Ratner, president of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Rhode Island, is planning a softball tournament to honor his father and raise money for the Alpha-1 Foundation, a national group that advocates for the fight against Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1). The foundation says that 1 in every 2,500 people is born with the condition.

The tournament will be held Sunday, Oct. 16 on the intramural fields on the URI Kingston Campus from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. About 20 co-ed teams from the fraternity and sorority system at URI will play. Each team will pay a $100 fee, which covers lunch and T-shirts for the participants. In addition, pledge amounts will be calculated by the number of runs each team scores.

The fraternity is hoping to raise $5,000 from the Runs for Lungs Softball Tournament.
While most of the participants will be from the University’s Greek system, Ratner said students from the residence halls and those who live off-campus are also invited to organize teams. Other teams will be made up of URI administrators and campus police.

“We did some small fundraisers last year while my dad was sick, and during that time, I thought about running a softball tournament to raise money,” Ratner said. “This is the first time that Phi Kappa Psi is running an event of this magnitude in conjunction with the foundation.”

The River Vale, N.J. resident said the event is being held in collaboration with the fraternities’ and sororities’ “Philanthropy Week” events. “Phi Kappa Psi wanted to run an event to bring the whole Greek system at URI together working for one cause,” he said.

Ratner said the tournament will be fun and it will shed light on a condition that is relatively unknown and often misdiagnosed.

The Alpha-1 Foundation says the condition is passed from parents to their children through genes. This condition may result in serious lung and/or liver disease in various ages in life. There may be up to 100,000 people living with Alpha-1 in the United States.

It wasn’t until three Christmases ago that Josh learned that his father had Alpha-1. What was believed to be a bad asthma attack triggered a trip to the doctor and some additional tests. That’s when it was determined that Josh’s father had Alpha-1. “There is no cure for the condition, only treatment,” Ratner said.

Ratner, who is a history and education major, has been inspired by his father and mother, Nancy. “My mother is a teacher and my father sold educational technology. He also served on our town’s Board of Education for 10 years, and in a town of 15,000, everyone knew him. He wanted to make something good happen.

“Even with this condition, my father was active,” Ratner said. “In three years, I only saw him in a wheelchair once.”

The URI chapter of Phi Kappa Psi has been a part of the campus for more than 40 years. It has more than 1,000 members and one of the largest scholarship funds in the country. One of the founding missions was serving and helping others.

Pictured above
READY FOR THE BALLGAMES: River Vale, N.J. resident Josh Ratner (center with baseball glove) is joined by his fraternity brothers from Phi Kappa Psi at the University of Rhode Island in preparation for a softball tournament in honor of his father that will raise money for the Alpha – 1 Foundation.
On April 18, Josh’s 48-old father, Michael, died from. Alpha – 1 emphysema, a genetic form of the lung disease. The tournament is Sunday, Oct. 16. URI News Bureau photo by Joe Giblin & Co.