RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In an effort to educate high school seniors and their families about college alcohol consumption and the dangers of fraternity hazing, the family of VCU freshman Adam Oakes has launched a nonprofit.
On Tuesday, the family learned Oakes had died of ‘ethanol toxicity’ and the manner of death was an accident.
“We have been waiting for the toxicology report and biopsy. It has been three months,” said Courtney White, cousin of Adam Oakes. “We couldn’t just sit and not do anything. It lit a fire in us.”
White had mentioned she wanted to make a nonprofit in Adam’s name two months ago and her persistence quickly became a reality.
“How can we help others? How can we be proactive in supporting kids as they go into college from high school? There is no time to waste. Now is the time to educate. We wanted to start by helping students with financial aid,” White said.
White said the nonprofit’s mission is to help transition high school seniors and their families to college by giving scholarships and educating them before they leave their family’s homes and enter life on a college campus.
“Our vision is to support, educate, and equip graduating seniors and their families with the transition from high school to college,” the vision statement on the nonprofit’s website reads.
In the inaugural year of “Love Like Adam,” the nonprofit, White said they had a goal of giving three students $1,000 scholarships in Oakes’ name. They hope to give another three scholarships every year with more funding increased through donations.
White said the most important lesson they hope to teach students is knowing the signs of alcohol poisoning so they can get help if it is happening to someone else — because she said nobody was there for Adam.
“No one got him help,” White said. “It starts with prevention. Don’t put your drink down because someone can spike your drink. How to make good decisions, learn about Greek life, research the charges and deaths within fraternities. That way they have the education that they need to select the right fraternity for them.”
The nonprofit began with Potomac Falls High School in Sterling, Va., where Adam attended.
Seniors at the school were nominated by teachers and they selected three winning applicants after essay submissions.
The family hopes to “keep Adam’s spirit alive” through the scholarship essay, which has a prompt that prompts students to choose one of the characteristics Adam showed in his life, and teachers nominate the students who most represent that characteristic.
Then, the family picks the winner.
“How are they doing good? What are they doing for others,” White said. “Our hope is to engage them, to go around to different high schools and speak about Adam’s story and speak about things they’ll see when they go to college.”
With more to come from the investigation, VCU’s Division of Student Affairs still wants Delta Chi’s VCU chapter to be permanently removed from campus.