Lisa Burke and Dan Gjelten send thanks

Tommies to the Coast Relay Team: Front row, Mélanie Weiss, Dan Gjelten, Leslie from Bend, Ore. Middle row: Patrick O’Shaughnessy, Lisa Burke, Julie Schwalbach, Kevin Reardon, and Debbie and Matt Kimlinger. Back row: Mary McGrath, Phil Anderson, Tonia Bock, Jennifer from Bend, Ore., and Jed Hastings.

Lisa Burke and Dan Gjelten send thanks

Editors' note: Here's a thank-you note from two St. Thomas staff members, Lisa Burke and Dan Gjelten, who were injured in a car accident near Portland, Ore., on Aug. 22, just a few days before they were to have competed with several St. Thomas staff, students and friends in the Fred Meyer Hood to Coast Relay, billed as North America's biggest relay race. The team is pictured visiting Gjelten and Burke at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland after finishing the relay.

As one of our colleagues noted, “The heart of St. Thomas is never more evident than in a crisis.” Since our accident we have witnessed the heart of St. Thomas in so many ways. 

We would like to thank the UST community for the many warm thoughts, prayers, hugs, cards, flowers, rides, meals, music and other blessings we’ve received.  We’ve been amazed and humbled by these many kindnesses; while our bodies are still healing, our hearts are peaceful, happy and full of gratitude.  

We extend a special thanks and congratulations to our terrific “Tommies to the Coast” relay team, who lifted our spirits both in the hospital and after returning home. With two substitute runners from Bend, Ore., they ran the 197-mile relay race as planned, finishing in 26 hours, 56 minutes. The team placed 302nd of 1,032 teams overall, and 25th of 82 teams in the Mixed Submasters division – a terrific performance.

There’s a poem by William Stafford that we have long admired that holds particular meaning for us now:


It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out – no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

The days since Aug. 22 have been a bonus. Thank you to all who have reached out to us … we look forward to seeing you on campus soon if we haven’t already.