Senior Luke Landolt saw the effects of multiple sclerosis on a daily basis.
His mother bore the inflammatory disease, so he saw the challenges it forced and, in turn, he wanted to help her at home in St. Louis.
When Landolt was a sophomore at MU, a member of his fraternity told him about Rockin’ Against Multiple Sclerosis, the on-campus organization that raises funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Institute of Mid-Missouri. Landolt immediately felt like it was something he had to do.
“I fell in love with it as soon as I got involved,” the senior said. “Personally, I know exactly how much this work means for them.”
Since then, Landolt has ascended the ranks of RAMS. After volunteering, he worked on a subcommittee his junior year and is now one of the three top coordinators.
This year, Landolt and the other tri-directors are focusing on more than just raising money.
“Our big focus this year has been raising awareness,” Landolt said. “We really try and get our cause out there and gain a lot of support on campus.”
RAMS, which is now in its 22nd year, started its fundraising with an event at Déjà Vu Comedy Club on Feb. 6, according to the RAMS website. It led into “Rockin’ Weekend,” during which students who bought a RAMS wristband could earn special offers from local businesses Feb. 7-9. The following night was Speaker Night at Jesse Hall, in which community members affected by MS shared their stories with this year’s volunteers.
“It was nice to hear people’s perspective of what RAMS has helped them do and the things that it’s helped them buy,” said Megan Hargraves, a freshman volunteer whose great-grandmother had MS. “It’s cool to see that what we’re doing actually does help people.”
Fundraising continued last week and more than 80 volunteers for Jail ’n’ Bail, the staple of RAMS. During the day, volunteers were locked in a cage in the MU Student Center while partners from their organizations stood on the outside fundraising “bail money” for them.
“This is a unique experience, and it’s very interactive,” said sophomore Sam Scorby, who was caged Thursday morning. “I figured it’d be a great way to volunteer some time.”
During Jail ’n’ Bail, volunteers from Greek houses collected donations on campus with pails in hand. Financially, RAMS has been one of the campus’s biggest philanthropic movements. Last year, the organization surpassed a sum of $1 million fundraised during the last 21 years.
“It’s always a pretty good showing for every year,” Landolt said. “Our donations to the MS Institute are a majority of their operating budget each year — over 75 percent.”
RAMS concludes this year’s round of fundraising with its annual Rock It competition, a lip-syncing contest held among Greek organizations at The Blue Note.
The most meaningful part of RAMS for Landolt, though, is its service day. On Saturday, volunteers and directors went to the houses of those affected by MS. The volunteers helped them with tasks they wouldn’t be able to easily do themselves, such as cleaning garages and moving furniture.
“This (event) is to be out there and be hands-on and get to know these people before we dump the check off at an organization,” Landolt said. “When you see the patients that you help, when you see the look in their eye, that’s what it’s really all about.”