St. Olaf CollegeLilly Program for Lives of Worth and ServiceSt. Olaf College

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About the Lilly Grant Program


Lilly Grant Program for Lives of Worth and Service
Bruce Dalgaard, Program Director
Old Main Annex 3
1520 St. Olaf Avenue
Northfield, MN 55057

507-646-3268
507-646-3626 Fax
dalgaard@stolaf.edu

Katie Fischer

In response to each petition lifted by campers and staff, faithful voices sang,
Spirit intercedes for us,
With sighs to deep,
For words to express,
Oh.

The prayers of the people were for friends and family members, in thanksgiving for a fun week at camp, for healing, for help, and for Cory. The boy sat in the middle of the front row at campfire that night, surrounded by new friends. His hindering mental and physical disabilities were invisible, possibly for the first time, to the eyes of critical middle school boys. Cory couldn't do as much, understand as much, or say as much as the other boys, but he could feel and love as much. One of his cabin mates stood and prayed with tears in his eyes, “God I want to thank you for putting Cory in my cabin this week. He's a really cool guy and I'm glad I got to know him.” As everyone sang the responding chorus, Cory's new friends surrounded him in a group hug. From the back of the campfire, I cried silently for Cory and for the boys who had become friend with him this summer. I cried for joy that Cory had been easily accepted into the group, his disabilities dismissed. I cried because the boys had been so kind to him and had obviously learned more about love from him. But I also cried because I worried that when Cory went home, the heavenly acceptance that had surrounded him at camp would vanish and reveal a harsh and critical world.

At the beginning of the summer, I knew that I was interested in doing some sort of medical work with kids, but I had few ideas of any specifics. Cory's blatant acceptance did not lead me to any new conclusions, but rather confirmed that fostering an accepting community should be a part of my life, now and as a nurse after graduation. When a person is sick or disabled in anyway, society has a habit of isolating or glancing over that person. Why is it that such differences divide people rather than unite them? One of the reasons I want to become a nurse is to help people realize that illnesses and disabilities are not what make a person who he is.

There is a saying that a doctor treats a disease that a person happens to have, but a nurse treats a patient who just happens to have a disease. While I think that this statement is unfair to doctors, the mentality of treating people as people no matter the condition of their bodies and minds is an important one to cultivate. We are not different; we all have diseases. Some just have the more obvious ailments of sickness or disability, while the rest of us have the ailments of the human condition—imperfection, dishonesty, greed, hate, condemnation. The medicine to treat these ailments is a complex one that scientists cannot isolate and bottle up, but must be taught and demonstrated, one person to another. This is the medicine of love and acceptance. This is the medicine that Cory and his new friends showed me is necessary to all aspects of my life, from socializing to nursing.