With the clock ticking down to the start of the Spring 2011 semester, a group of ambitious and motivated Ferris State University students had one final but very important task to complete.
The group of Ferris seniors wanted to pay a debt of gratitude to some of the many men and women soldiers who have bravely sacrificed for the United States.
Ferris Political Science faculty member Christine Bailey’s students organized a series of activities that raised about $10,000 during a two-year period to benefit soldiers and families of soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., in January. The Walter Reed Medical Center Project was rooted in both Ferris’ Political Engagement Project and Academic Service Learning effort. In keeping with the tradition of PEP and ASL, Bailey’s senior Political Science students were challenged to step out of their comfort zones and become more civically minded as they took on the Walter Reed project.
The reality of Walter Reed Army Medical Center was an eye-opening experience for the Ferris group, according to Bailey.
“It’s impossible to visit Walter Reed and not have it make a lifelong impression. I am proud of all 90-plus students who participated in the project and am personally gratified that each of the students who were a part of the trip told me it was a life-changing visit that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” Bailey told ABC Channel 12 in Flint as the group prepared to leave the city’s Bishop International Airport en route to Washington D.C. “They are as proud of what they accomplished as I am.”
Bailey traveled to Washington D.C. with a group of her Ferris students: Shane Stikeleather, of Davison; Drew Davidson, of Clio; and John Lyons, of Stanwood. She noted that the group spent about an hour in the rehabilitation unit distributing “Hoops for Troops” T-shirts and “Support Wounded Warriors” wristbands to the injured soldiers. Bailey also indicated that the students presented more than $6,000 in cash and gift cards to Stephen Maguire, director of Walter Reed’s Service Families Assistance Center.
The gesture proved both powerful and rare for Walter Reed officials.
“(Maguire) told us Ferris is the only university in the United States to have such a project for their patients,” Bailey said.
As part of the trip to Washington D.C. and visit to Walter Reed, Bailey and the students had a packed itinerary that included a visit to the U.S. Capitol to meet with U.S. senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin of Michigan. The group’s schedule also included a tour of Arlington National Cemetery.