RCPD is grateful for the generous contributions and donations from individuals who have benefited from and believe in the work of RCPD. Hal Wochholz, a 1958 MSU graduate, and his wife Phyllis, are two such individuals who believe in the RCPD and help fund a variety of programs and services through the Wochholz Endowment, established in 2006.
Hal Wochholz recounts that "I think back to the summer of 1955 when I could just barely get around on crutches, didn't have a formal education and needed a safe/nice place for my family, and MSU was there for us!" Hal and Phyllis give back to the University that was there for them through the Wochholz Endowment that contributes to spreading awareness and expanded opportunities for persons with disabilities.
This summer, thanks to the Wochholz Endowment, RCPD is able to serve as a sponsor for two exciting events dedicated to promoting the awareness and inclusion of persons with disabilities: The 56th Annual Kiwanis Chicken BBQ and the World Dwarf Games.
On Thursday, July 18th, the Kiwanis Club will host their annual Chicken BBQ for which RCPD has been a sponsor since 2009. The Kiwanis Club is committed to the service of others and to improving the quality of life for everyone, missions that RCPD promotes as well. The BBQ is attended by hundreds in the mid-Michigan area and allows others to learn about the work that RCPD is doing.
RCPD Director Michael Hudson details the importance of RCPD sponsoring Kiwanis events because “we believe this visibility helps us convey the possibilities that accompany an MSU education and through the event we help ensure people with disabilities are a visible part of the higher education landscape to families, educators and others who see RCPD featured in this venue both via our Gold level sponsorship and via staff volunteerism at the event.”
Through the Wochholz Endowment, RCPD will also maintain visibility through sponsorship of the World Dwarf Games, which are being held at MSU in early August. The World Dwarf Games are the largest sporting event in history exclusively for athletes with dwarfism, and MSU is extremely excited to be the host for over 400 athletes from 19 countries who have registered to compete.
MSU student and competitive athlete Jeffrey Astrein is excited to compete in basketball and volleyball at the Games. He believes, “The World Dwarf Games is a great way to show the public around the world that there are individuals who take pride in their disabilities and support others when help is needed.
“Having been a student at MSU for a total of 7 years, and as a strong spirited MSU Spartan and member of the Izzone, MSU's student basketball section, it is an honor to play and compete in basketball and volleyball at Jenison Fieldhouse where the men's basketball team won a national championship before moving into the Breslin Center.”
RCPD believes this sponsorship allows participation in a once in a lifetime event while showcasing the awareness and involvement for this population and other students with disabilities at MSU.
East Lansing is excited to welcome the participants of the World Dwarf Games from all over the world!
Astrein agrees wholeheartedly. He understands the impact that RCPD can have on students, recounting, “I was worried about being successful at MSU due to my hearing impairment and health concerns. The RCPD has been at my side every step of the way to provide accommodations for my disabilities and to offer advice during difficult times.”
He says, “I was excited to learn that the RCPD will be a sponsor of the World Dwarf Games. With my first hand understanding of the work and mission of the RCPD, I know it is very appropriate and significant for the department to be involved with the World Dwarf Games.
“It will be comforting for me knowing the RCPD will be a part of this important international competition.”
The World Dwarf Games are an exciting opportunity both for students and for RCPD, and along with the relationship with the Kiwanis Club, RCPD is grateful for the Wochholz Endowment for making these programs available for students. Hal Wochholz knew in 1958 that he was graduating from a University full of possibilities for everyone, including persons with disabilities, and RCPD continues to make that a reality for students every day.