Our University – Concern and Compassion

Bill and Jan, our friends from Murphysboro, were at the Saluki football game on Saturday last week. Somewhere along the way the excitement and workings of time got to Bill.  He had a cardiac arrest.  It was serious business, his heart stopped, and he passed out.  A number of things happened immediately.

First, an off-duty EMT began to administer treatment and also called the ambulance and other EMT folks to the scene.  Thankfully the ambulance was in the end zone near the place where Bill and Jan sat.  It was present in case a player gets hurt. The fact that it was a fan in need made no difference to the good people on duty.

Second, a number of women came and asked Jan “Are you a Christian, and can we pray with you?”   The answer was yes on both counts.

Third, through a quick response Bill was taken to Memorial in Carbondale… good care was provided throughout his stay… including the installation of a defibrillator.  He is home, and on the mend.

The story is a good one if it stops here but it hasn’t even started yet.

That night after the game our athletic director, Mario Moccia, came to the hospital to see Bill, to inquire about his condition.  Bill is a great supporter of Saluki Athletics.  He attends games faithfully but Mario did not know that, or anything else about Bill.  He only knew that “fan Bill” was at the football game, and he had a cardiac arrest.  Maybe Mario sees it, in the healthiest possible way, as “his football game.”  He is partly responsible for some or most of what happens there.  That is a special kind of concern and compassion in my book, and represents what we should all aspire to.  In no stretch of anyone’s definition of “job” does the heart health of football fans fall on his shoulders. Mario was concerned for Bill, and his family.  This is compassion in my book.

The story would be a great one if it stopped here, but it’s not over.

The next day Mario came back.  With reinforcements.  He brought Coach Dale Lennon.  Mario did not need to do that.  And the coach’s professional well being rises and falls on his won-lost record in the end, and there is no breathing time in the season for anything but attending to that record through the student athletes.

Really?  Maybe, but not for Coach Lennon.

He came to see Bill helmet in hand, literally by the way, to say thanks for the support and to wish him well in the recovery process.   I believe Bill’s recovery is proceeding nicely, pushed along by people with concern and compassion, The off duty EMT that jumped into action, the women who prayed with Jan, those that carried Bill off, the Athletic Director who became a plain old guy and went to see Bill, and a coach, Coach Lennon, that has a set of priorities that should serve as a model to all of us.

These people are the real thing, and the real story is a fantastic one.

At our university we should never be too busy with our appointed tasks, no matter how important they seem to us at any time, to show concern and compassion to those in our midst who would benefit from it.

Evidently not all of us are.

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