HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (June 25, 2013) — Recently, our own instructor, Russ Lewey, was called on to make the 12-hour trek to Oklahoma to help a community heal and raise funds. When the devastating storms and tornados struck Oklahoma in mid-May, most Alabamians watched from a far, knowing the devastation all too well. While most of us watched on the news with a feeling of helplessness, our own instructor was rushing to the aid of his daughter, Erin Perry, an Oklahoma teacher and small boutique owner.
Russ commented that he was “moved by our daughter’s commitment and cause. Having seen the destruction that has taken place here and across the Tennessee Valley and how others helped our communities, we felt we owed that same to others.”
Although safe from the storm, as a teacher, Erin knew that following the devastation, fellow teachers would need to use their own funds to re-purchase and re-outfit their classrooms. She wanted to help them. As boutique owners, Erin and her co-owner, worked to quickly design a designer t-shirt to raise funds for the teachers. The t-shirt company agreed to provide the tees at cost, and all of the profits would go to Plaza Tower Elementary. They estimated that they would sell a few hundred t-shirts.
To their surprise and amazement, the t-shirt, pictured above, went viral on social media, and orders poured in from all over the country. With over 3,000 orders, Erin and her co-owner were overwhelmed. Russ and his wife were called in to help package and organize the orders at a very low cost, maximizing the impact that they could make on the teachers. Final figures are still being tabulated, but Erin estimates that she will be able to provide the teachers of Plaza Towers Elementary over $7,500 to help them rebuild their classrooms.
Russ noted, “We are very proud of our daughter. While we were there, we experienced three nights of subsequent tornado warnings, even one that moved us to a community shelter.”
Russell V. Lewey is a retired Colonel with over 26 years of active duty specializing in international security policy and intelligence and serving as an Air Attaché. He also served as the Chief of Air Force Military Assistance to Jordan overseeing the execution of a $330 million foreign military sales program. As a contractor, he has supported intelligence efforts for the Air Force, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Under Secretary of Defense.
Lewey is the instructor for the Division of Professional and Continuing Studies Defense Security Assistance and Foreign Military Sales Overview course.
For more information
Sarah L Pearse
Sr. Associate Director
Division of Professional and Continuing Studies
The University of Alabama in Huntsville