This fall, Maggi Schutte, D.P.T.’16, invited her classmates to join her in supporting an organization she loves, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A group of physician assistant students saluted a beloved faculty member by benefitting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Yet another group of students spent most of a chilly night in a cardboard structure to raise awareness and funds to help homeless Iowa youth.
These are typical examples of how DMU students take breaks from textbooks, lectures and labs – in activities that meet needs, serve others and support great causes.
“As future health care providers, we want to be involved with various health care organizations in their support of the community,” explains Emily Walker, PA’15, one of the organizers of a group of about 25 classmates and family members to participate in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s annual Light the Night Walk on Oct. 12. Physician assistant students regularly volunteer at the event in honor of Pam Harrison Chambers, M.P.H.’01, PA-C’92, associate professor in the physician assistant program and a leukemia survivor. This was the second consecutive year the DMU group raised more than $5,000 to support the organization.
“We started with a modest goal for fundraising, but after Mrs. Chambers told her story to the whole class, some of our classmates got really excited about the fundraising aspect,” says Michelle Kubik, PA’15, another group organizer. “As a class, we decided to raise our $500 fundraising goal to an ambitious amount of $5,000. With the support of family, friends and faculty at DMU, we were able to exceed it.”
As an undergraduate at Truman State University, Schutte got involved with St. Jude’s “Up ‘til Dawn” effort and last year was its philanthropic director. “When I graduated, I was so sad to leave it behind so jumped at the opportunity to get involved with [St. Jude’s] Give Thanks Walk,” she says. She recruited 11 physical therapy classmates to join her for the Nov. 23 event at Valley West Mall in West Des Moines; they raised more than $2,000 for the research hospital. They were joined by two DMU osteopathic medical students, who came donned as superheroes to help motivate the walkers.
“Next year I’m hoping to expand the team to other disciplines on campus as well,” Schutte notes.
Other DMU “superheroes” included 10 members of the University’s Homeless Camp Outreach (HCO) who participated Nov. 16 in Reggie’s Sleepout, an annual event in Des Moines to raise awareness and money to address youth homelessness in central Iowa. The event is named after Reggie Kelsey, who aged out of the foster care system in 2001 and, three and a half months later, died in the Des Moines River. Proceeds, which totaled nearly $130,000 this year, benefit Iowa Homeless Youth Centers.
Sleepout participants spend part or all of the night in cardboard structures, pup tents or sleeping bags in Drake University’s football stadium. The DMU team modeled their structure after the DMU Mobile Clinic, which students and clinicians use to provide services and information to the city’s homeless. Thanks to their structure’s features – including an examination table, privacy curtain and waiting room – the team took home an “honorable mention” for best overall design.
“My garage became a holding tank for cardboard starting in September,” says HCO member and second-year osteopathic medical student Mary Heady, who led the organization’s sleepout effort. “I’m so proud of HCO’s attendance and team spirit through the whole thing…In the end we accomplished the overarching HCO goal of raising awareness of unsheltered communities.”