Volunteers from OUWB deliver winning team to Ford Field in Detroit
An image of OUWB students who volunteered
Students from OUWB who volunteered during one of the Lions' home games.

Before the Detroit Lions take the field on Thanksgiving Day, members of the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine community will greet many fans entering Ford Field.

The reason?

Through a partnership with Security, Athletic Facilities & Events (SAFE) Management, medical students, faculty, and staff from OUWB have been volunteering at home games throughout the season. They’re set to do it once again on Thursday, when the Detroit Lions play their annual Thanksgiving Day game in front of a national TV audience.

OUWB volunteers have served as “ticket-checkers” at the main entrance to Ford Field and helped with giveaways, too. According to ESPN, the Detroit Lions are averaging 62,194 fans per game in 2022, with most entering Ford Field via the entrance where OUWB volunteers are stationed.

Trixy Hall, coordinator, Graduate Programs and Community Outreach, said there are two primary reasons for OUWB to be involved: the funds the school raises for giving back to the community groups such as The Michigan Veterans Foundation, as well as the experience the volunteers have of interacting with a large and diverse population.

“The reason I wanted to jump on this initiative was because I… wanted to find other avenues to bring in money so that we can continue to make an impact in the community,” said Hall.

The Michigan Veterans Foundation was a perfect fit, she said. Among other things, the organization helps veterans who are experiencing houselessness.

Hall delivered about $1,500 worth of items to the group on Veterans Day.

“They were just so happy to see all of the things that we bought,” she said. “The money went a long way…(and) we were able to give them things that they had requested.”

The other big benefit is the interaction between medical students and the public, said Hall.

“Yes, it’s a different type of environment for our volunteers, but it’s all about the exposure to different groups of people,” she said. “They are interacting with people from all kinds of different ethnicities and backgrounds.”

“The idea is to give our volunteers exposure to different groups of people they might encounter when they become physicians,” she said.

Volunteers generally said they were excited to be part of the effort.

“This experience gave me the opportunity to interact with a wide-ranging crowd of people that represent the state of Michigan,” said Andrew Shanholtzer, M4. “Many times in the hospital or clinic setting, you are seeing patients in vulnerable states but at the football game you see people in their normal life…happy and surrounded by their friends and family.”

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Shanholtzer worked at the game where the Lions beat the Green Bay Packers in what has been one of relatively few bright spots for the home team this season. That made it “all the better,” he said.

Max Troyke, M2, also volunteered at the Lions-Packers game.

He joked that “as a perpetually sad Chicago Bears fan, the patience and character-building achieved by three hours of interacting with happy Lions and Packers fans will no doubt translate to my time as a physician.”

In all seriousness, Troyke noted the importance of engaging with local communities, and that “medicine is a people-facing, service-oriented profession.”

“You might be the most brilliant or technically proficient provider in the room, but if you cannot greet your patient with a smile and get off on the right foot, you won't go very far,” he said.

“This opportunity and others like it bring us back to the most fundamental and important aspect of medicine — the human connection upon which the most successful patient-provider relationships are based,” he said.

The opportunity to volunteer at the remaining home games for the Detroit Lions is open to the entire OUWB community. Contact Trixy Hall at [email protected] for more information.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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