Nolan Burch was an 18-year-old freshman at West Virginia University when he died on November 14, 2014, from alcohol overdose after being hazed during “big brother night” for Kappa Sigma fraternity. Nolan grew up in Williamsville, NY as the only son of Kim and TJ Burch and best friend to his younger sister Alex. “Nolan was very outgoing and willing to meet new people anywhere he was,” said Kim and TJ. “Simply put, Nolan saw the best in everyone and brought people together.” Nolan graduated from Canisius High School, where he was a very good student, played hockey and baseball, and was surrounded by his large circle of friends.
Nolan chose West Virginia University because it felt like home to him, and despite his full course load and part-time job, he wanted to get more involved on campus. He chose to pledge Kappa Sigma, and spent the 3-month pledging process enduring all that was asked of him. His final night of pledging was November 12, 2014, when he met his “big brother” in the fraternity. Nolan’s big brother gave him a 750 ml bottle of 100 proof whiskey (21 drinks) and told Nolan to finish it within an hour. Security cameras at the fraternity house show Nolan’s limp body being carried back into the house an hour and a half after the event began. He was laid down on a stage, and despite more than 50 people in attendance at the party, no one noticed Nolan’s dire condition until it was too late. Nolan was on life support for 2 days before he succumbed to alcohol overdose — his BAC was .493 when he died. Nolan was able to save four lives in his death through the miracle of organ donation.
Nolan’s family started the NMB Foundation to prevent tragedy from happening to another young man or woman and their families. The documentary film Breathe, Nolan, Breathe shares Nolan’s story. “He truly loved his friends, and he loved life itself. Nolan was always there when his friends needed someone to talk to,” his family says. “Any number of decisions could have been made that night that would have resulted in Nolan still being here. It is impossible to describe — we miss him every second.”