All of us at Ross Education are passionate about making a meaningful impact on people’s lives and futures. From our campuses to our corporate offices, we are always looking at ways to benefit our students and the communities around us. Every so often, something jumps out and we are able to get all of our staff, faculty, and students from our campuses scattered throughout eight states to join forces and all put their energy in a single direction to make an impact. That’s exactly happened when Allison McConnell, Regional Vice President of Admissions, saw the story of a little boy with cancer on her newsfeed and knew she wanted to be a part of making him smile.
Jeremiah Derks is a 12-year-old boy in Kokomo, Indiana with a rare form of aggressive cancer. He has one simple request for all those that want to support him: send police patches from all over the United States. “Asking for patches was a surprise to us, he wanted to join the military, like me,” shared Shannon Derks, Jeremiah’s father. “But he understands he cannot now, so the next best thing in uniform was to be a police officer.”
As soon as Allison saw that Jeremiah was in Kokomo, she knew she could get the Ross team to come together and surround him and his family during this time. She soon reached out to the 40 campuses and was met with an incredible amount of compassion and enthusiasm as each campus got right to work in their community reaching out to local police stations to ask for their support and a patch to send to this courageous young boy.
With a Ross Medical Education Center campus in Kokomo, the staff was able to set a time with Jeremiah’s family to go visit and bring the 140 patches from all the campus community police locations as well as three sheriff hats. Not only that, but the Kokomo Ross staff partnered with the Indiana Army Guard to deliver the patches to Jeremiah. Ashley Padfield, Assistant Campus Director of Admissions, contacted her son’s Sergeant in Kokomo and they agreed to drive a military vehicle for Jeremiah get to explore during their visit as well. “Thank you to Allison for the idea of collecting the patches and the many campuses that support Jeremiah’s Journey,” said Shannon Spencer, Kokomo Campus Director. “Our staff had a great time meeting Jeremiah and his family. We are eternally grateful that we work for such an organization that allows us to support local communities!”
With an intensive chemo schedule, some days are much harder than others for Jeremiah. But, according to his father, “Jeremiah is super humble and really asks for nothing. I’m just trying to give him the best that I can and show him he is loved and supported by many that really care.” His smile when he gets new patches or has a visit from someone in the community speaks volumes to the hope and life that Jeremiah has. Each person that got the opportunity to be a part of Jeremiah’s Journey from the Ross team was deeply impacted. “Ross really encourages us to look for ways to give back, and that is what makes us a great organization,” said Allison McConnell. “But those pictures of that boy smiling made my day!”
If you are interested in following Jeremiah’s story and learning how you can support him and his family, visit the Jeremiah’s Journey Facebook page.