It started with a smile. For most people, that is all it takes. If Cassidy-Rae Luebbering smiles at you even once, she becomes a part of your life forever.
The men of Theta Chi got the chance to meet the girl gifted with this spectacular ability in the spring of 2015. It was during this time that Theta Chi met up with Cassidy-Rae and her family in the MU Student Center to color and decorate cookies on Valentine’s Day, marking the first of many gatherings between the family and the fraternity. Soon after the holiday event, many members of Theta Chi participated in Mizzou Thon— helping, along with many members of the MU community, to raise over $100,000 for the MU Children’s Hospital.
Following Mizzou Thon 2015, the relationship between the Luebbering family and Theta Chi grew even stronger. Many members of the fraternity would make the journey to the Luebbering family’s home in St. Thomas, MO— about an hour’s drive south of Columbia. It was during these home visits that the idea for the wheelchair-accessible bathroom began to evolve.
Cassidy-Rae and her family live in a beautiful farm home. Nonetheless, it was one unequipped with the proper amenities to make day-to-day tasks easier for their daughter, Cassidy-Rae— born premature and diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a hearing impairment.
Upon returning home from one of his trips to St. Thomas, Tyler Easton, now a Theta Chi alumnus, began to raise money for the family to help them build a wheelchair-accessible bathroom for Cassidy-Rae. Easton then ran the idea by some members in the chapter and gathered tremendous support almost immediately from the rest of the house. Promptly after, the first round of fundraising began with a banquet in the spring of 2015. Easton asked Cassidy-Rae’s mother, Renee, to present to all the attendees at the banquet in hopes of garnering donations. By the end of the day, the banquet produced over $2,000— funds that went directly toward the Luebbering’s bathroom project for the materials and equipment required to properly construct the bathroom that Cassidy-Rae deserved.
“I was blown away by the support that the idea received. Brothers stepped up in every way possible to help make the bathroom a reality,” said Easton. “It feels good to know that there are people close to me that are willing to help others when they are called upon.”
Following the initial fundraising event, Theta Chi started an online fundraiser to help the Luebbering family cover many of the additional costs of the bathroom’s construction. External support continued to pour in, and the online fundraiser produced an additional $4,000 for the project. Further donations provided by the Luebbering family’s church and other avenues also poured in, making the bathroom project a feasible reality. In order to save money, Cassidy-Rae’s father, Nathan Luebbering, performed much of the actual labor with help from family members during various phases of the project.
To help round off the project and complete the job, several members of Theta Chi traveled to the Luebbering family’s farm during the spring of 2016— aiding in various tasks including grouting the shower and installing Cassidy-Rae’s new bedroom TV. The finished project included new carpeting in the home, a master bedroom with a closet for Cassidy-Rae, and a completely renovated wheelchair-accessible bathroom.
The bathroom renovation was a team project that would not have been possible without the wonderful parents, alumni, and friends that donated their time and funds to make it a reality. At the end of the project, the cornerstone was certainly the Luebbering family. Nathan worked tirelessly, despite severe setbacks, to make the bathroom and master bedroom beautiful new elements of their family home.
The early portion of 2016 was an extremely difficult time for the Luebbering family, and the members of Theta Chi, with Cassidy-Rae hospitalized several times for various health issues. While the bathroom may be complete, the relationship between Theta Chi and the Luebbering family still runs strong. In 2015, Cassidy-Rae was unanimously declared Theta Chi Sweetheart, and prayers at chapter, visits to the hospital, as well as trips to the Luebbering family farm are a few of the ways that the men of Theta Chi ensure that the special link continues. Every member of Theta Chi is incredibly thankful to be able to associate with such a wonderful family, and to see Cassidy-Rae smile even more than before.
“I am so happy that Theta Chi has developed such as strong relationship with the Luebbering family,” said Easton. “I could not be prouder in calling myself a member of Theta Chi.”