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Friends Secretly Work To Help An Aggie's Ring Dream Come True

Scot Walker '90 November 14, 2013 5:29 PM

Photo caption: With his friend Bryan Parra '13 (left) on hand, Luis Gonzalez '09 confirms his Aggie Ring order. Parra started the surprise fundraising effort that enabled Gonzalez to purchase his Aggie Ring.

By Trey Bodwin ’13

A group of friends at Texas A&M joined together to make one former student’s dream become a reality on Aug. 24 of this year. University studies major Bryan Parra ’13 decided to make a Facebook page for his close friend’s birthday. What was meant to be a casual gathering for Luis Gonzalez ’09 soon became the surprise of a lifetime, thanks to the help of his friends and the Aggie Network.

Parra and Gonzalez have been good friends for nearly five years and have had many things in common. Both are from the Dallas area, both were initiated into the same fraternity at A&M, and although both worked hard for their Aggie Rings, neither thought they would receive them.

Gonzalez was a communication major from Dallas and wasn’t sure if he would attend Texas A&M at first. “I didn’t know anything about the university until I read ‘The Pride of Aggieland’ by Homer Jacobs,” Gonzalez said. “From that moment on, I completely fell in love with the university and what it stands for.”

Since graduating, Gonzalez continued to display his connection and support for the university by staying in touch with the Omega Delta Phi Fraternity- where he and Parra became fraternal brothers.

Parra credited much of his school spirit and passion for the Aggie Ring tradition to Gonzalez. “Luis would always talk about the Aggie Ring and what it represents to all of us as Aggies,” Parra said. “He was one of the few who did not receive his Aggie Ring, and we wanted to change that.”

The time had come for Parra to order his Ring for the fall delivery. But the thought of him receiving his Ring before Gonzalez didn’t seem quite right.

Parra had every intention of helping Gonzalez get his Ring, but didn’t know how. After browsing through the Aggie Network Facebook page, he found inspiration in the story of Brawnlyn Blueitt ’13, who used Facebook to help raise funds for a Classmate’s Aggie Ring.

So he did just that. A Facebook page was created and caught fire, reaching Classmates and fraternity brothers across the nation. In the matter of seven weeks, more than 60 individuals agreed to either donate or participate in the surprise event.

The support and donations came in rapidly, many of which were from Aggies who Parra and Gonzalez had never met before.  Parra received enough money to not only
purchase Gonzalez’ Ring, but also to purchase an airline ticket for Gonzalez’ mother so she could attend the Nov. 13 Ring Day ceremony as well.

“I was amazed at the many responses received from Greek networking,” Parra said. “I was contacted by individuals from Chicago, Wisconsin and California.”

Gonzalez was then invited by Parra to return to College Station for old time’s sake. “It had been nearly a year since he [Gonzalez] visited us at the university, so I decided to secretly reach out to some of our friends and fraternity brothers to recreate an experience he would’ve had as an undergraduate,” Parra said.

On the evening of Aug. 24, Gonzalez arrived at Los Cucos Restaurant in College Station for what he thought was a small birthday gathering. To his surprise, a room full of his friends and fraternity brothers were in attendance to celebrate the occasion.

But the true surprise wasn’t revealed until dinner was finished.  At that time, Parra got up and announced that Gonzalez would be receiving his Aggie Ring and his mother would be in attendance to witness the occasion. Gonzalez’ dream of receiving the Aggie Ring that he so deserved was finally coming true.

Gonzalez was left speechless. “It’s always painful to see Aggies graduate and not receive the Ring they worked hard for,” Parra said to Gonzalez that night. “And now you won’t have to experience that anymore.”

The shocked Gonzalez attributed this experience to the friendships he made through his fraternity at Texas A&M. “I wouldn’t be a part of such a brotherhood if it wasn’t for the university,” Gonzalez said. “This moment showed me how much support and extended family I have, thanks to the Aggie Network.”

The two friends have shared their excitement about Gonzalez’ Ring for three months, and now as tomorrow’s November Ring delivery approaches, their anticipation is even greater. “I’m excited to finally get my Aggie Ring, but even more so to see the Aggie Network in action,” Gonzalez said. “As an Aggie, you’ll often hear amazing stories about Aggies helping others, but when you’re actually a part of it—it means that much more.”

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