The Shenandoah University Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Class of 2019 raised $12,000 for health and human services organizations at its recent gala.
On June 29, the class presented Winchester-based Special Love, Inc., which provides camp experiences to children with cancer, with a check for $8,000. The Laurel Center (formerly The Shelter for Abused Women), also based in Winchester, has received $2,000 from the gala, and El Ayudante, a humanitarian organization based in León, Nicaragua, has also received $2,000.
“Each year the students select community organizations that touch their hearts,” said Distinguished Professor & Director of the Division of Physician Assistant Studies Anthony A. Miller, M.Ed., PA-C. The story of PA student Erin Schulte ’19, led, in part, to Special Love’s selection.
A Personal Connection To Special Love
“At the age of four I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia,” Schulte said. “I am blessed to say that I have been cancer free since my treatments. After finishing my chemotherapy treatments, I became an active participant in various Special Love events: Camp Fantastic, Family Fun Weekend and Family Ski Weekend. My siblings, Eric and Emily Schulte, also went to Brass Camp.
“My most valuable experience was at Camp Fantastic. I made friends with kids who were going through the same experience and understood how it felt to battle cancer. It allowed me to be a kid: going horseback riding, playing in the pool and taking mini-cooking classes. Special Love helped my family and I make the most out of those difficult years during and after my treatments (whether it was through camps or ski trips) and allowed us to enjoy what matters most – time with loved ones. For this reason, I am greatly appreciative of the organization and everything that it has done for my family and many others. Simply put, Special Love holds a special place in my heart.”
This is also the second year The Laurel Center has benefited from the gala.
Shenandoah’s PA classes recently marked their 13th year of holding galas, all of which are successful due to the students’ hard work, Miller said. “They go out to friends and family and to the Shenandoah Valley community to get donations that are auctioned at this event (silent auction), and there are some prizes that are awarded via raffle.”
Miller said helping the community is part of the PA mindset. “Our students are attracted to the PA profession because they want to pursue a career that is about helping others. So doing these galas to raise money for community agencies is natural for them – it is in their DNA.”