Graduate student's journeys lead to Jefferson Award
Once they heave sighs of relief after spring exams, many students take part of their summers to relax and rejuvenate.
UTgraduate student Lucas Blazejewski hopped on a bike for 63 days.
Blazejewski, who earned a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical science/pharmaceutical administration in May, joined a handful
of fraternity brothers in pedaling from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., during the summer of 2007. The project, Journey
of Hope, garnered funds and awareness for Push America, an organization that advocates for people with disabilities.
For his past and current deeds of extraordinary citizenship, Blazejewski was honored with The University of Toledo's Jefferson
Award for the month of July.
"We weren't cyclists by any means," Blazejewski said from the nation's capital, where he recently completed an internship
with the Library of Congress. "It sounded like a fun experience, and working with people with disabilities appealed to me."
Hedidn't mount the bike on a whim. "Before the trip began, Luc spent the entire 2006-07 academic term personally developing
and implementing a fundraising program that would ultimately yield over $5,000," read Blazejewski's nomination. "This money
directly impacted people with disabilities across the country."
Leadership and service come naturally to Blazejewski, who is pursuing a master's degree in pharmaceutical science at UT. He
caught the volunteering bug while coaching youth soccer in high school and has continued to serve various local and national
causes through his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi.
His efforts have touched Toledo's Camp Miakonda, where he and members of Pi Kappa Phi constructed equipment to enhance accessibility;
St. Vincent Mercy Children's Hospital, which was the recipient of a record amount of funds raised during last year's Dance
Marathon; and the Josina Lott Center, where Blazejewski can be found swapping bingo cards with residents every month.
"Ihave a blast, going in and playing bingo, kind of leaving the stresses of college behind," Blazejewski said. "The residents
really enjoy interacting with us."
Blazejewski had participated in Dance Marathon for three years before taking the helm as director in 2009. This year�s marathon
was one of the most successful in event history, raising approximately $50,000 and attracting more than 650 participants.
"Ihad the privilege of leading an executive committee of 33 UT students," Blazejewski noted. "It was truly a student-driven
event. I had a great team."
This summer, Blazejewski's participation in Journey of Hope came full circle. He welcomed this year's team of cyclists when
they entered Washington, D.C., Aug. 15, congratulating them, commiserating about riding through the Rocky Mountains, and sharing
in their contentment. Though he didn't put any mileage on his bike this year, the satisfaction of his long ride in 2007 lingers.
"It was the experience of a lifetime," Blazejewski said. "I was happy to greet this year's cyclists as they neared the end
of their journey."
"Ithink that's my passion in life - trying to make things better for others around me."