West Ridge Academy (WRA) recently hosted its 7th annual “Celebration of Hope and Healing.” The event was held on a beautiful spring evening and honored Shaun and Annette Michel and Ollie and Carola Michel as they received the “Legacy of Hope” award. The award recognizes those individuals who truly make a difference in the world through service. Past recipients of the award include Bishop H. David Burton, Delpha Baird, G.W. Anderson, Janet Lawson, Ron McBride, and Mary Ellen Smoot. Two past residents and a parent of a WRA student spoke, focusing on the positive effects that WRA has had on their lives.
The evening was hosted by Richard and Linda Eyre with introductions by Board President Debi Gilmore and Advisory Council Chair Dorothy Robertson. The WRA music program led by Chris Woods provided the entertainment. They performed inspiring music and featured former and current students singing and playing instruments. A highlight of the evening was a piano solo and song written and performed by one of the students titled, “The Master’s Touch.”
Ken Allen, Executive Director at WRA, presented the “Legacy of Hope” award and introduced the Michel family by relating a story that illustrated their lives of service.
“While the family was vacationing in Mexico, Annette Michel became very ill. The only medical care was a small hospital located in the jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula. The hospital had only one wheelchair, no waiting room, no operating table, a shortage of sheets and pillow cases, no monitoring equipment, and no stand for Annette’s IV. Shaun held the IV so that another patient could use the one available IV stand for a serious injury. Annette survived the ordeal and upon arriving in the United States, the family decided to stock the field hospital with all of the necessities. Donations were organized and six tons of medical equipment was gathered together for shipment. Everything was boxed and the money was raised to fly the equipment to Mexico. The entire plane was full of medical equipment. Several months later, their Bishop took a trip to Mexico and visited the field hospital. The waiting room was full of people; the patients were watching the TV that had been sent and sitting on the donated chairs. All six newborn incubators were full and the doctor said they were in constant use. Countless babies have been saved because of the generosity and work ethic of this great family.”
The Michel family has been instrumental (pun intended) in the creation of the music program at WRA, including producing and creating two music CDs. WRA is grateful for our continued relationship with this wonderful family.
Upon receiving the “Legacy of Hope” award Shaun Michel humbly thanked the Board of Directors, staff, donors, and especially the students of WRA. He was grateful to the visionary men who created the Utah Boys Ranch 45 years ago. He said that he was inspired by men such as Dr. Lowell Bennion, who passed away without worldly wealth because he had given so much back to those in need. He expressed gratitude and recognized his parents, Oma and Opa, who were in attendance for their contribution in making him the person that he is today. He also recognized two young men who had been through the program at WRA and highlighted their success since leaving, one of whom was his son. He was grateful to accept the award on behalf of his family, but felt the true heroes were the staff, board members, and parents of WRA who have sacrificed so much to bring hope and healing to their children.
WRA is grateful to all who attended the Gala and the generous support of our donors. The money raised will be used to support the Financial Aid Program. This program serves deserving families who are desperate for the services WRA provides, but who are in need of financial support. The Gala will offer hope and healing to many families.
Lynn Merritt—Fundraising Department