Stone Foltz was a 20-year-old sophomore at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) when he died on March 7, 2021, after being hazed while pledging Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity (PIKE). Stone grew up in Delaware, OH, as the oldest son of Shari and Cory Foltz, and he cherished his role as a loving big brother to brother AJ and sister Jersee. Stone graduated from Buckeye Valley High School, where he played baseball, basketball, and lacrosse. Stone dreamed of owning a fashion business, and he was working toward a business degree at BGSU. “Stone was an amazing kid,” Shari remembers. “He was a kind individual, he was a good listener — just the most loving, caring person.” Cory concurs: “As a dad, I was proud. He was growing up to be an independent young man.”
When Stone was a freshman at BGSU, he thought about joining a fraternity, but after researching the organizations, he didn’t feel the groups aligned with his values and decided to focus on his schoolwork. That changed in the spring of his sophomore year, when Stone told his parents he was pledging PIKE. Shari and Cory describe what happened to Stone during the pledging process as “grooming” — hazing that escalated in risk over the pledge period. T he day before PIKE’s “big/little night,” Stone reached out to his mom, telling her that the last thing he needed to do to get into the fraternity was drink a lot of alcohol. Shari told him he didn’t have to do that, and Stone said, “No, we do. Everyone has to drink.” Shari told Stone that no one has to drink or do something they don’t want to — she said it was stupid and that he needed to be smart with his decisions. She expressed her concerns to Stone, but she did not know how much alcohol was “a lot” — she had no idea that Stone would be given an individual bottle of hard liquor, and that he would be required to consume that bottle as fast as possible. Stone didn’t know how much alcohol would be involved, either — in the investigation after his death, it was discovered that the week of the event, Stone googled “how to drink large amounts of alcohol,” hoping to find tips to help him get through the night. At the final pledge event on March 4, 2021, Stone was blindfolded, yelled at, and coerced by PIKE members to drink an entire liter of bourbon, which he finished in 18 minutes. Stone passed out at the fraternity house, and PIKE members drove him back to his apartment, where they left him alone on his couch. Later that night, Stone’s roommate found him unresponsive, and he and Stone’s girlfriend called 911. After 3 days in the hospital, surrounded by his family and friends, Stone was pronounced dead and fulfilled his vow to be an organ donor, saving over 100 lives.
Shari says, “When we first saw Stone in the ICU with all the tubes coming from his body, the first thing I told him was how sorry I was — and then I promised him we would fight to put an end to hazing. We told him we would never stop fighting.” The Foltz family created the iamstonefoltz FOUNDATION to give back in Stone’s memory, and Shari and Cory travel to colleges and high schools presenting their Never Leave Anyone Behind program. Shari reflects, “To know Stone was to know his smile, his kind heart, and his peace sign,” the latter of which is the FOUNDATION logo. “Each of our lives are forever changed. We think of Stone from the minute we wake up to the time we fall asleep. Every day is a struggle. There will be no closure for our family until hazing is permanently eradicated on college campuses.”