By Mark Ambrogi
Xavier Somerville was only in Bryan Hall’s life for a short time. But his spirit left an impact that would last a lifetime.
Somerville, a Purdue freshman, fell to his death from a fifth-floor balcony while attending a party on the IUPUI campus in September 2012. Witnesses said there was underage drinking at the party and when police arrived Somerville panicked and tried to jump.
Hall and Somerville were pledge brothers at Sigma Chi at Purdue. Hall, a Guerin Catholic High School graduate from Carmel, is now a senior at Purdue.
Hall and four other fraternity brothers came up with the plan to pay tribute to Somerville and created The Xavier Project.
“He had such a positive impact on all of us with his attitude towards life and how happy he was all the time,” Hall said. “We want to spread a positive impact in a short amount of time. So we went to nine different cities all across the U.S. last summer. We would find a family or individual in need and spend five days with that family. We try to help them out financially or whatever they need, kind of like a philanthropy project in each city.”
The group also is starting a scholarship in Somerville’s honor at Lawrence Central High School, his alma mater.
Hall said through friends they knew in a city or by cold calling they get in contact with charitable groups or churches to find a person or family in a tough situation.
“We probably contacted 100 different organizations and then talked about who we could help the most,” Hall said. “In a span of two months, we were able to raise about $15,000. We had about $1,000 for each stop. We took a kid to the zoo. We took another kid to an amusement park. We put the money to whatever they needed, such as fixing a car.”
Hall spoke to Carmel Golden K Kiwanis Club last month about how the project was progressing. The club had donated money to the project last summer.
A web series is planned on their summer tribute. For more information, visit thexavierproject2015.com.