On Oct. 28, Albert Chan, PhD, suffered a major stroke while teaching his philosophy class. Students, faculty and medical personnel responded swiftly, and his life was saved.
By early November, a St. Ambrose "meal train" had been organized for the Chan family, who live in Iowa City. That's where Chan spent two weeks in intensive care at University Hospitals before being transferred to a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, rehabilitation facility.
"I think it's a natural response, to feed people," said Sherri Erkel, director of First Year Experience. Erkel and others wanted Chan's wife, Cora, and daughters, Sharla and Kayden, to be free of that concern. "Literally, every major, every department contributed," said Erkel. "The calendar filled up immediately."
Erkel, who also lives in Iowa City, delivered home-cooked meals or pizza gift cards each night on her way home from work. "I had a cooler in my office and Cora had one on their porch," she said.
St. Ambrose faculty, staff and administrators visited Chan in the hospital. Students stopped by Erkel's office to ask about him. Cards of encouragement were sent. Rides were provided for the Chans' out-of-town relatives. When their family car broke down, a retired faculty member contributed three-quarters of the $4,000 repair bill.
Before his stroke, Chan, a volleyball aficionado, had practiced with the Fighting Bees JV team and played on the faculty/staff team along with Lindsay (Miller) Schaefer '05, English instructor and graduate writing coordinator. "After the stroke we all wanted to honor him-and his fight," Schaefer said.
A March men's varsity volleyball game at the PE Center was transformed into a fundraiser and morale-booster. Chan, who by now had been transferred to a rehabilitation center, was able to watch online. The stands were filled with Ambrosians wearing "Fight Like Albert" t-shirts. The team won its match, and the Chan family was presented with a $3,000 check from T-shirt and raffle ticket sales.
Chan, who is now walking, continues to improve and gain strength. The Chans plan to move back to California this summer, to be closer to family as Albert Chan continues his rehabilitation.
"We are so indebted to St. Ambrose for such a generous and gracious response to our family," said Cora Chan. "There have been so many angels that have helped us in so many countless ways, even now. It is a testimony of God's love."