FHSU Sports Information Department
For the second straight year, over 20 Fort Hays State student-athletes traveled on a mission trip to Haiti to serve and help educate nearly 500 children. Led by Dr. Jeff Burnett, Director of the FHSU Wellness Center; Talia Miller, FHSU Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach; and Dr. Kathy Kelley, Assistant Professor of Communications at FHSU, Drew Gannon, FHSU Graduate Assistant, and Garrett Kahrs, 2013 FHSU graduate, the group joined a total of 59 Fort Hays State students that spent four days serving in Haiti towards the end of May.
The group was sponsored through Encounter, a College-Aged Ministry in Hays, Kan., one of several student organizations for members of the FHSU community to get involved with. Some of the student-athletes made the trip for the second consecutive year.
Teaching the English language, counting skills, math skills, hygiene, soccer skills, and playing educational games were among the activities the student-athletes engaged in while on the trip. The group also helped feed and set up beds and lockers for several orphans in a country that was decimated by a catastrophic earthquake in 2010.
The first day included meeting with all of the children at the school and getting to see the day-to-day operations. The entire group split into subgroups for separate assignments, which included work projects and educational sessions, but then came back together in the afternoon to play games and connect overall as one group.
On the second day of the trip, the group shuttled the children to the Haitian Olympic Training Center for the annual Haitian/American Soccer Tournament. The children had never been able to experience playing on the field or seeing the facility, even with it being a short drive only within five minutes of the school.
On day three, several of the children went on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with the group. Several had never been to the ocean, despite living in the island country. The children were very excited to get to hang out and play in the ocean, which was followed by a buffet dinner and watching the sunset on the beach, something several of them may never experience again.
On the final day, the group spent more time with the children hanging out, playing games, and having a jam session with music. It was tough for several members of the group to say goodbye, but the children were so happy and appreciative of their time with the group.
The trip was a life changing experience for all that were involved. After the long days of working with the children, several had time to reflect on their experiences and grow closer as a group.
All of Fort Hays State’s athletic programs are involved with community service throughout the year, especially within the community of Hays. This was a unique experience for several to serve on a worldly level instead of just locally.
Below are the student-athletes and individuals involved with the FHSU Athletic Department that went on the trip…
Ember Albertson, Women’s Soccer
Hailey Davey, Women’s Soccer
Margaret Meier, Women’s Soccer
Vianei Sanchez, Women’s Soccer
Baylie Schmitz, Women’s Soccer
Taylor Siedel, Women’s Soccer
Peyton Silbaugh, Women’s Soccer
Drew Gannon, Track/Field
Gentry Linscott, Track/Field and Cross Country
Nathan Purdue, Track/Field and Cross Country
Jacob Thomas, Track/Field and Cross Country
Summer Wilson, Track/Field
Dylan Wiesner, Wrestling
Emile Carter, Tiger Debs
Hadley Gillum, Men’s Basketball
Payton Hoeme, Women’s Basketball
Talia Miller, Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach (former player)
Sarah Pimentel, Women’s Basketball
Trae Regier, Football
Jordon Stangler, Football
Sara Hewson, Volleyball
Raegan Vanderplas, Volleyball
Ryan Imber, Baseball
Shane Wade, Baseball
Andrew Sogn, Sports Information Graduate Assistant
Bailey Pfortmiller, Student Employee