Brotherhood has a deeper meaning for Josh Ballard (Southeastern Louisiana University, 2021) now that he shares the Fraternity experience with his older brother Christopher.
Josh had never imagined joining a Fraternity, and his parents were opposed to the idea, but when he heard an upperclassman talk about why he joined Delta Tau Delta during recruitment he became intrigued. “I came back the night before bid day and heard the chapter advisor, Mr. Gene Pregeant (Southeastern Louisiana University, 1980) speak. I had my decision made when I left that night,” said Josh.
The Fraternity's core values of truth, courage, faith and power resonated with Josh who says he has always been close to his faith, morals and values. “Through the values that came with the Ritual, I realized I was walking into something I already chose to do my entire life. I joined a group of like-minded individuals with the same goal, the same purpose—the desire to do better,” he said.
Last year, Josh’s older brother Christopher, who has Down syndrome, enrolled in Southeastern’s Lions Connected program. The program provides young adults with intellectual disabilities an inclusive college experience while preparing them to become contributing members of society. With Christopher on campus, Josh invited him to chapter events and by the second semester, Epsilon Phi Chapter’s Ritual Chairman Blake Luna (Southeastern Louisiana University, 2021) asked Josh what he thought about Christopher becoming an honorary member.
“I didn't think that was possible because Christopher is not considered a full-time student,” said Josh. Chapter officers talked to their chapter advisor and found it was possible. The entire chapter voted and they decided to prepare a special Rite of Iris team for Christopher.
During the Rite of Iris ceremony, Josh stood by the candle representing brotherly love, the last in the ceremony. “I was standing right behind Christopher the whole time, so at the end, he turned around and he ran into my arms, gave me a big ol’ hug and tears starting falling from his eyes. I asked, ‘Christopher, why are you crying?’ and he said, ‘Well, because I only had two brothers and now, I have all of you.’”
Welcoming Christopher into the Epsilon Phi Chapter became Luna’s singular favorite moment as a Delt. “Seeing him partake in Ritual made me realize how much more this Fraternity has to offer. Standing next to him during the Rite of Iris and seeing him connecting with the Ritual made me realize how Delt not only impacts me but also other people around us,” he said.
“It was one of the most heartwarming things for me as his brother," said Josh. "I've seen the way he's grown over the years. He is very high-functioning for someone with his disability, but to see him be able to be involved, he loves the spotlight, he loves the attention, he loves to dance, and we invite him to be involved at every opportunity.”
Josh takes pride in being recognized as Christopher’s brother. “I show it every day in the way that I live, but people can see through him that I have a very big heart. I'm a big softy for how big of a person I am and it just comes from the way I was raised and the family I was brought up in,” he said. “With him being in my family, God put him in our lives so that I would be the person I am today, and my family and my other brother would be the people that they are today too.”