October 13, 2011
Every year during the Day of Reflection, Saint Francis University grants the Assisi Award, the Franciscan Courage Award, and the Student Service Award to individuals whose actions have exemplified the values of the institution’s patron, St.Francis of Assisi. This year’s event with the theme “We have been called to heal wounds” was held on October 4.
The Assisi Award was granted to Stan Brock, the founder of the Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps (RAM) and former co-star of Wild Kingdom.
Brock was also the keynote speaker for the day addressing students, faculty, and members of the community. He shared his story of how being thrown from a horse in the Amazon basin led him to the realization that the closest doctor was 26 days away by foot. This experience inspired the founding of a worldwide volunteer medical organization.
RAM is a non-profit, volunteer relief corps dedicated to providing free health care, dental care, eye care, veterinary services, and technical and educational assistance to people in remote areas of the United States and the world. Volunteer doctors, nurses, pilots, veterinarians, and support workers participate in expeditions at their own expense. Medical supplies, medicines, facilities, and vehicles are donated.
Brock invited Saint Francis students to participate at a free clinic at RAM headquarters in Knoxville, TN, in February, and he encouraged the university to join him in his efforts to change legislation that prevents doctors from offering free medical care across state borders. Currently Tennessee and Illinois are the only states that allow licensed healthcare providers from other states to provide voluntary care within their borders.
The Franciscan Courage Award was given to Iraq war veterans Keith Maul and Thomas Kriss. Kriss served eight years active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps and an additional three years in the Army Reserves. He has also worked as a guard at the State Correctional Institution in Cresson since 1999, where he received the Medal of Valor for courageous service to our country.
In February 2009, Kriss was working on a route clearing mission in northern Iraq when his vehicle sustained an RKG-3 attack. The attack seriously injured on of his fellow soldiers, Keith Maul, who lost an arm and a leg. Maul, who had only been in Iraq for two weeks at the time of the attack, credits Kriss, who is not a medic, with providing the emergency care that saved his life.
Maul has shown great courage himself in overcoming his injuries. For eight months he carried out his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is Washington D.C. In September 2009, Maul returned to his native town, Lilly, where he now lives with his wife and son.
The 2011 recipient of the Student Service Award was Elisha Fleig. She is an exemplary student who has gone out of her way to improve the community, and she is always finding ways to help.
Fleig has been involved with Saint Francis’ Hugs United program for many years. Her double major in physician assistant and Spanish make her a valuable contributor because of her ability to communicate and provide healthcare in another language. Her volunteering and service through Hugs United have definitely furthered the mission of Saint Francis University.
Fleig has served both the campus and the community in many other ways as well. She has been homecoming chair for the Student Activity Organization, a student senator in the Student Government Association, both recruitment chair and social chair for her sorority, and is secretary of her class. She was the director of orientation for this year’s incoming freshmen class. Fleig is a volunteer for the S.M.I.L.E. program and the Dorothy Day Center, and she volunteers with the Chemistry Club during their Rural Outreach Chemistry for Kids (R.O.C.K.) events. She also volunteers to help run booths at local festivals like Ebensburg’s annual Potatofest.
Perhaps all that Fleig does for the university and the community is best summarized in the words of one of her peers: “Elisha is the most selfless and generous person I know, and I aspire to be more like her each and every day.”
The Day of Reflection was rounded out with service projects, panel discussions, and collections of foot and hand warmers to give to patients who wait in long lines at the free clinics for care, as well as military care packages for our troops.
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