Although 615 miles separate Ann Arbor from Ground Zero, several University groups are finding ways to help the victims of Sept. 11.
This summer, two students will begin an 1,800-mile bike trip through various parts of the country in an attempt to raise funds for campus memorials honoring the victims of Sept. 11.
LSA senior Trevor King and Jeff Suffolk, a senior at Western Michigan University, hope to raise $1 million in an 18-day journey that will take them through New York City, Shanksville, Penn. and Washington – all locations where the hijacked planes went down.
“This is a small something that we can do to keep people aware of September 11,” Suffolk said.
King and Suffolk hope to create memorials on both university campuses with the proceeds, as well as donating a portion of any additional funds to their local Red Cross chapters. “We’re talking with the Art and Architecture Department to rally for their support in both the design and construction of the memorial,” King said. “Ideally, we want (additional money) to be used toward educational programs.”
King and Suffolk hope to obtain corporate sponsorships and university support for their trip, in the form of monetary and equipment donations. They have already received donations toward the purchase of bikes from WMU’s Interfraternity Council. “We’re encouraging our chapters to donate, and a great many of them are,” IFC president David Bernardi said. “Something as worthy as this definitely needs to be promoted as much as possible.”
King said medical liability was the main reason for excluding other participants this year, but he wants to expand the program in the future. “We’re scared that someone else will get hurt. We’re developing a training program so people will have a year to train for this,” he said.
King also wants to make this a national event.
“In years to come, we hope to get the same type of deal going on campuses nationwide. We want to unite college campuses throughout the country,” King said.
At each of their stops, King and Suffolk hope to leave behind something to commemorate their journey. They plan to present the donations they earn at a joint ceremonies in Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo on the one year anniversary of the attack.
Earlier this year, the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity sponsored an event at the Necto dance club that raised $8,000 for the Red Cross. Also, the University of Michigan’s IFC is planning to give part of the proceeds from Greek Week to a fund for Sept. 11 firefighters.
“The community was affected so much by (September 11), and we had a lot of people in our community directly affected by the event, so donating to those causes seemed to be the best thing to do,” Alpha Sigma Phi Grand Counselor Jim Vanek said.
Some groups felt an obligation to donate to charities based on their membership. The Muslim Students Association raised money for Afghan children while the Persian Students Association organized a comedy show in December which garnered $750 for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. “We encompass Persian speaking nations, including Afghanistan. We felt it fell upon us in certain ways to help out the people in that country,” PSA spokesman and Rackham student Idin Motedayen said.