Tears of joy and sorrow in an emotional year

December 28, 2017 / by / 0 Comment

Cathy Hocking carries the diploma of her daughter, Karli Richardson, killed in an auto accident just 13 days before commencement.

GCU News Bureau

They are the stories that make you feel good about humanity. They are stories of faith, courage and incredible determination, and they all have a connection to Grand Canyon University. Here, then, are GCU Today’s 10 most touching stories of 2017. But be forewarned: You might need some Kleenex – like maybe a whole box:

The Hyduchaks (from left): Ann, Jace and George.

“His cancer fight showed the superhero in all of us” (Jan. 19): No parents should have to go through what the Hyduchaks endured after learning that their 5-year-old son, Jace, had cancer. But they got through it, and Jace was the race starter for the 2017 Run to Fight Children’s Cancer.

“First responders receive a heartfelt thank you” (April 20): Perry Harris picked the perfect place to have a heart attack – in the middle of a large crowd of people at Run to Fight Children’s Cancer. Among that crowd were a doctor and a certified athletic trainer as well as the station for the GCU Sports Medicine Club, and they all teamed up to save his life. Harris got to thank them in a special event on campus a month later.

“A mom’s walk, like Karli, leaves lasting memory” (April 28): Less than two weeks before Karli Richardson was to graduate from GCU, she and her sister, Kelsey, were killed in an auto accident on Interstate 17. But their mother, Cathy Hocking, still came to commencement to accept Karli’s diploma, creating a moment that was as courageous as it was unforgettable.

“Bible, faith kept public safety officer alive as ‘Lost Boy’” (June 14): Joseph Gamunde, a public safety officer at GCU, is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who had to run for their lives to escape the war that began in 1983 and went on for more than 20 years. Through all his harrowing experiences, his faith remains strong.

Joseph Gamunde with his well-worn Bible.

“Business grad has strong ties to servant leadership” (Aug. 3): When Andrea Northup looks at what has happened to her the last few years, she finds herself saying, “OK, God, it’s funny how You work.” Just getting to GCU was amazing enough, but she’s convinced it was no coincidence that she became a business major, got a job right after graduation with Habitat for Humanity and then started a business designed to help one of the most economically depressed areas in the U.S.

“How a mission trip gave her a blessing to hold tight” (Sept. 5): Staff writer Jeannette Cruz went on a mission trip to an orphanage in Indonesia last year and then wrote an introspective piece about the experience. It became the impetus for a new GCU Magazine feature, “My LopeLife.”

“GCU ‘angels’ help family in car accident” (Sept. 20): When two GCU nursing students, Carrie Dean and Riley Arnold, witnessed a rollover accident on Interstate 10 during Labor Day weekend, they sprang into action. The driver, Jennifer Florez, was dazed afterward, but her enduring memory was those two blonde-haired women in their purple GCU scrubs who were right there among the first responders.

Ruby Saunders, who has limited mobility from cerebral palsy and other health conditions, gets help in her mobility from a wheelchair engineered by members of GCU’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Club. 

“Dedicating degree to memory of her heroic son” (Oct. 11): Meloney Jefferson of Belton, Texas, earned her psychology degree despite a horrific obstacle – her fourth-grade son, Jace, was diagnosed with a brain tumor two weeks after she started, and he died about 17 months later.

“GCU club engineers hope for Ruby” (Nov. 20): When members of GCU’s Electrical and Electronics Engineers Club found out that Ruby Saunders needed a special, motorized wheelchair, they were determined to build it for her. And that they did despite numerous challenges – because the challenges she faces from her disabilities are far greater.

“GCU employees come up big for a mother in need” (Dec. 19): For the last four years, members of the Curriculum Design and Development Department have “adopted” a local family at Christmastime. But the case of Katie Jordan and her children was so severe, the GCU employees wanted to do something extra. Boy, did they ever.



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