Recently, Missouri Epsilon undergraduate and alumni Phis took part in the annual Eric Westacott Golf Tournament. The Eric Westacott golf classic benefits both a deserving St. Louis individual who has been affected by a spinal cord injury and one of our own brothers, Eric Westacott.
This year’s tournament benefitted Officer Michael Vernon of the Florrisant, Missouri police department. Officer Vernon was injured in the line of duty when he was shot and the bullet lodged into his spinal cord. The tournament was able to raise and donate over $10,000 to Officer Vernon as he works towards recovery.
As for the founder of the tournament, Eric Westacott’s story is one of tragedy and triumph. Life for Eric was typical of that as a Phi at Missouri State University in the early nineties. As a biology major he spent considerable time dedicated to his studies, however, he also was no stranger to the Fraternity. He enjoyed socializing with brothers, assisting in community service, and competing in intramural sports, which is where his story truly begins.
Eric routinely played in intramural sports, and played is an understatement given his athletic abilities. Phi Delta Theta was playing Sigma Nu in a softball tournament and Eric’s competitiveness and drive was not going to allow Phi Delt to lose this game. As Eric came to bat, he hit the ball to the wall and was determined to score. As Eric rounded third and headed home, in came the relay throw; there was going to be a play at the plate so Eric slid headfirst into home. Eric’s teammates waited for him to stand to congratulate him, however, when Eric didn’t move they knew something was wrong. The slide into home had broken Eric’s neck and left him paralyzed and a quadriplegic.
Eric’s determination, drive, and the support of his Missouri Epsilon brothers allowed him to persevere through this horrific accident. After months of therapy and recovery, Eric returned to MSU to finish his degree. After completing his undergraduate degree, Eric attended Saint Louis University, where he obtained his law degree. Eric is now a successful lawyer having just started his own firm and is able to live on his own with minimal help.
Eric’s story is truly one of a kind. Eric was able to overcome a terrible accident and achieve monumental success in a time when most would have given up. Eric credits a large portion of his success to his brothers at Missouri Epsilon. Without the support of the chapter he would not have been able to return to school and complete his degree. Eric is always connected to the house at 1107 E. Elm St., because as you may know, the bat he used from the fateful day hangs over the fire place across from the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig’s bat.
The Missouri Epsilon Chapter still takes great pride in their proud tradition of brotherhood all these years later. Many of the Phis that played in Eric’s tournament a few weeks ago were not even alive when Eric’s accident occurred but prove that Phi Delta Theta is a fraternity for life.