ECPI University Hosts Fundraiser for MDA

Student’s Son/Faculty Member’s Brother Inspires Campus to Raise More than $3,500

Newport News, VA – The Newport News campuses of  ECPI University and its School of Health Sciences, Medical Careers Institute, have long been dedicated to raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), as well as supplying physical therapy assistant volunteers at MDA summer camps. This year has certainly been no exception. At its April 19 Pie-in-the-Face Contest and Raffle, more than $3,500 was collected, bringing the five year total to more than $15,000.

As students, faculty and staff prepared for this year’s campaign, they did not have to look far for inspiration. That’s because muscular dystrophy has touched two members of the campus family. English Professor Melissa West lost her brother, Sean, to the disease three years ago. “At the age of sixteen, he was told that his condition would kill him within two years,” she says. “MDA was there for my mother and my family to give us information on how to help my brother and make the most out of every day.  As his condition worsened, they assisted us in filing the paperwork to provide my brother with a motorized wheelchair so that he could leave the house. They connected him with others who had the same condition, which allowed him to both give and receive encouragement throughout his life.”

More recently, ECPI welcomed new radiology student Tammy Crain who has an adorable 7-year old son, Tristan, currently battling the early stages of the disease. Tammy recently retired after serving 20 years in the Air Force and moved to Newport News to attend Medical Careers Institute. “Tristan really has a way of drawing people in,” says Tammy. “We’ve only lived here a short time, but we can definitely feel the support and it means the world to us.”  In fact, the campus has adopted Tristan as its MDA Ambassador and it was quite obvious he was enjoying all the attention showered upon him at the campus’ April 19 fundraiser.

For Physical Therapy Assistant Program Director Rob Learn, leading these fundraising campaigns has been a labor of love. He says taking his students to volunteer at MDA summer camp is a life changing experience. “My students get to have fun and learn about muscular dystrophy in the same day, says Learn. “They get to take their academic knowledge and relate it to real life circumstances. That day is a real eye-opener. They really have a place in their heart for all the children they play and interact with.”