Matthew Duran and Kevin Rudi were inseparable in college. The two met through the brotherhood of Lambda Chi Alpha at New Mexico State University, but soon formed a bond that went far beyond anything they could imagine. They became so close, in fact, that they became known collectively as “Chewdi”, a play off of Duran’s nickname, Chewy, and Rudi’s last name.

Following college in 2011, Duran made the move to Albuquerque to work for Intel, and Rudi soon followed. Duran calls Rudi the best friend he ever had, and the friendship continued going strong.

Kevin Rudi. Photo courtesy of Matthew Duran.

But in 2012, Rudi noticed an alarmingly large mass in his left bicep. After having it checked, Rudi was given the devastating news: he had been diagnosed with Stage 3 Spindle Cell Sarcoma cancer.

Immediately, Rudi called Duran, his best friend and confidant.

“He came to my house, and we exchanged early Christmas gifts and he kind of just broke down,” recalled Duran. “He told me about the diagnosis, and he told me we were going to beat this.”

Even through the support of his friends and family, Rudi could not stop the spread of the vicious disease. Soon, it spread to his lungs and lymph nodes, escalating the disease to Stage 4.

When Rudi’s lung collapsed, Duran knew that he did not have much time left with his friend. So, he took action.

After receiving Rudi’s blessing, Duran created the Rudi Foundation to commemorate his friend’s legacy. A month after the Foundation came to life, Rudi passed away.

Since its founding, Duran and the other board members (all brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha) have worked tirelessly to continue the go-getter spirit that Kevin so vibrantly demonstrated. Though Duran was the closest to Rudi, the other board members believe in the mission of the Foundation just as much.

The Foundation donates all of its proceeds to the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center. Photo courtesy of Matthew Duran.

“I might have been his best friend, but he made so many rich, rich connections and relationships with these brothers that they were just as close as he and I were,” said Duran.

The biggest event, and most true to Rudi’s spirit, that the Foundation hosts every year is the 5k RUDI fun run. In its fifth year, the run encourages participants to dress as superheroes, because that was what Rudi was to his brothers.

“It’s a superhero fun run because Kevin was our superhero, my superhero,” said Duran. “He fought cancer like I’ve never seen anybody fight cancer until the last day.”

The run first started around the New Mexico State University campus to foster Greek Life involvement, but has since moved to Albuquerque and has seen a significant jump in numbers. All proceeds from the run benefit the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, where Rudi received much of his treatment.

From a way to remember their friend to a fully-fledged foundation, Duran says he is proud of the growth and the impact the Rudi Foundation has. In the coming years, Duran wishes to see both the fun run and the Foundation continue to grow. But in the meantime, Duran will continue to honor the memory of his best friend and brother.

Participants dress as superheroes for each run. Photo courtesy of Matthew Duran.

“Lambda Chi was everything in college,” said Duran. “We based all of our decisions and weekend plans on it-whether that be building a float or doing community service.

“Kevin and I would never have met otherwise. I never would have known the best friend I’ve ever had, and it’s because of Lambda Chi Alpha…I think that the strength that we still get from all this, it’s a great foundation for the Foundation.”

To learn more about the Rudi Foundation, please click here.

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