Senior Scott Olofson, co-founder of Tex’s BBQ, said everyone knew Tex.
“He had friends all over the school, all over the country,” Olofson said.
Tex’s BBQ was created in remembrance of Sigma Pi member Nic “Tex” Smith. It is an all-you-can-eat event with food and games. The event is 12 to 4 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Sigma Pi house, located at 1430 N. Jordan Avenue.
Olofson said, in retrospect, the loud personality and big smile were signs Smith was masking some of his problems. Smith killed himself in January 2017, following periods of isolation and acting distant near the end of the fall semester. Smith was diagnosed with anxiety and was depressive.
Junior Michael Broodo, Sigma Pi philanthropy chair and Tex’s BBQ co-founder, said the event is to help raise awareness for mental health as much as it is an homage to Smith.
“It’s a fundraiser to support mental health initiatives on campus,” Broodo said.
Broodo said he likes to think the event helps destroy the stigma around mental illness at IU.
Tickets are $10, and all proceeds go to Counseling and Psychological Services, the Sexual Assault Crisis Service and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
This will be the first time funds will be given to SACS. He said sexual violence can make mental illness even worse, so he wanted to target it this year. The decision to give donations to SACS was a goal for this year’s president of Tex’s BBQ, Mike Zucker.
The reason he felt the need to step up and take a leadership position in this event was because Smith’s younger brother, Stuart, is a member of his pledge class, Zucker said.
Stuart Smith is not currently a student. He transferred to Collin College in McKinney, Texas. However, he is planning to return to the fraternity and IU during the fall 2019 semester.
Stuart Smith said his family helped organize the barbecue and wanted mental health to be de-stigmatized so it would no longer to be an uncomfortable topic.
“The biggest thing with Tex’s BBQ is leaving a legacy that mental health is totally a normal thing,” Stuart Smith said. “Everyone struggles with problems from time to time.”
Stuart Smith said the barbecue helped him come to terms with his brother’s death.
He said joining Nic Smith’s fraternity showed him all the people who loved his brother. Stuart Smith was able to learn what kind of person his brother was in college.
Nic Smith's tendency to focus on other people’s mental health instead of his own hurt him, Stuart Smith said.
“Our whole lives, my brother wanted to make sure everybody else was OK,” Stuart Smith said. “He really cared about other people, but more than he cared about his own mental state.”
Olofson said the amount of money Sigma Pi raises doesn’t matter in the end. He cares more about raising awareness and reducing the stigma around mental illness. He said students have come up to him in the past and told him how much the event helped them.
“It actually got them to take some of their first and second counseling sessions they didn’t even know existed,” Olofson said.