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Injured student receives support, encouragement from Union community

Tom Drury (left), Michael Messmer, Joey Hale and Carson Hawkins completed the Tough Mudder obstacle course to encourage and raise funds for Union student John Simpson, who was in an automobile accident in April.
Tom Drury (left), Michael Messmer, Joey Hale and Carson Hawkins completed the Tough Mudder obstacle course to encourage and raise funds for Union student John Simpson, who was in an automobile accident in April.

JACKSON, Tenn.Sept. 17, 2013 – Four members of the Union University community completed a Tough Mudder obstacle course Sept. 14 to benefit a recently injured student.

John Simpson, a 20-year-old sophomore at Union, was in an automobile accident in April. He has since been confined to a wheelchair but may resume classes in 2014.

“We are blessed that his was the only car involved and to still have him this side of heaven, as he had some pretty significant injuries,” said Robert Simpson, John’s father and the associate vice president for business services at Union.

Carson Hawkins, the director of safety and security, said the Tough Mudder event, consisting of 25 obstacles across 12 miles, was designed by the military to test a team’s fitness, camaraderie and mental toughness. Obstacles included running through fiery fields and crawling through mud pits.

Hawkins and Joey Hale, the former assistant director of safety and security, heard about John’s situation and wanted to complete the Tough Mudder to encourage and motivate John to persevere as he continues rehabilitation.

Two Union students – Michael Messmer, a sophomore social work major, and Tom Drury, a senior engineering major – also joined the team. The group traveled to St. Louis, Mo., to complete the event, which Hale said took about three and a half hours.

“The physical challenges we went through were not nearly as tough as what John has had to face mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” Hale said.

The team not only wanted to encourage John by completing the obstacle course but also hoped to raise funds for John’s medical expenses. Hawkins said that 100 percent of donations will be given to the Simpson family.

“We are truly carried along on the thoughts and prayers of so many friends and loved ones that have shown such great support for our family during this time,” Robert said. “Our prayer is that John will walk again, although we realize that God may have better plans for him than that.”

The safety and security office will continue accepting donations for John’s medical expenses until next week, Hawkins said. Checks should be written to “West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation/John Simpson.” For more information, call the safety and security office at (731) 661-5018.

By Beth Byrd


Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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