Values without borders

Dan Sonday

Dan Sonday

Though he couldn't understand what she was saying, one look at her eyes told him everything. Gratefulness, relief, joy. But it was much more than that.

As tears rolled down her face, she said, “Eres un regalo de Dios.”

You're a gift from God.

And she wasn't receiving a complex, life-saving procedure, but a simple knee injection and an ankle brace – something that Dan Sonday, a 2012 graduate of St. Scholastica's athletic training program, does every day as an athletic trainer at Summit Orthopedics and the Minnesota Swarm (the state's professional lacrosse team).

“It was really gratifying to know that someone appreciated the care I gave to them that much,” Dan said “It was worth it for just that one patient.”

The “It” here wasn't just another typical day at the clinic. It was a medical mission trip to the Holy Family Surgery Center outside of Tegucigalpa, Honduras – a city with one of the highest murder rates in the world.

This past September, Dan and about 40 others traveled there for 10 days to assist with people's medical problems, host lacrosse camps and spend time with the kids at the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos orphanage.

Interestingly enough, Dan was accompanied on the trip by two others with St. Scholastica connections – Drew Holm ‘14 (biochemistry) and Kaitlin Olson '13 (nursing) – who, like Dan, wanted to use their unique skills and expertise to help others in dire need.

For Dan, this meant giving injections, slings, splints and fitting prosthetics for two days in the clinic – working over 14 hours each day to help 265 patients – and two more days assisting with surgery – aiding another 48 people.

“People would walk for hours on end, take buses from the other side of the country to come see us,” Dan said. “Even if you couldn't do something for somebody, they left with a smile because they knew you cared about them.”

This experience has reinforced his desire to apply the values he learned at St. Scholastica into his work.

“I look at patients differently after all this,” he said. “The Benedictine values are special. That's what I want the care I give to be based on. That's how I want to practice medicine.”

And his lasting feeling from the trip?

“Blessed.”