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KU fraternity members band together to raise funds, make renovations after member became paralyzed

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- His life changed forever when he simply jumped into an ocean wave over winter break.

"Right when I got out of the water I looked at my Mom and I said, 'I`m paralyzed,'" Tom Babb said.

But now a paralyzed University of Kansas student is back on campus, thanks to his Beta Theta Pi Fraternity brothers' determination to make sure he lives life to the fullest.

Even though he wasn’t officially a member of the fraternity when he severed his spine, Babb’s brothers knew they had to do all they could to get him back to the house.

"That was one of the things I was really bummed about when I first got paralyzed, obviously I wouldn`t be able to come back to the house, nor would I be able to be initiated," Babb said.

Fraternity members spent the past six months gathering donations from alumni and coming up with a plan that would meet ADA guidelines and still keep the house on the Register of National Historic Places. Friday, Babb showed off his new first floor bedroom with a lift on a track that spans the room to get him into his special bed, and wheelchair accessible bathroom.

A chip in his wheelchair unlocks outside doors, others have been widened and have motion detectors.

At first, when Babb lost the use of his legs and hands he doubted he’d ever be back in college, now he’s on campus and ready to start classes Monday.

“Greek life has the bad rap of drinking and partying and all that bad stuff," Babb said. "This shows you it’s really about brotherhood and loyalty and friendship. It’s a great thing.”

Babb’s injury opened the eyes of his Beta Theta Pi brothers to the struggles other students with disabilities face. They’ve already raised more than $50,000 to give a student who needs full-time professional help a scholarship this school year.