Within the past year, two members of the WKU department of engineering family were diagnosed with cancer.
As the department deals with the news, two engineering students have hatched a plan to help in the battle against cancer.
Their answer is WKU Night at Beech Bend Park, a cancer benefit sponsored by the Department of Engineering and Tau Beta Pi. The event is this Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.
For a $20 entrance fee, anyone with a WKU ID has the opportunity to unite in opposition to cancer while experiencing the park’s numerous rides and attractions in an event-exclusive nighttime setting with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
Reed Gonzalez, a Beech Bend Park manager and WKU mechanical engineering graduate, spearheaded the creation of the event.
He said he hopes to contribute not only to cancer research but unification in the community and the department of engineering.
Gonzalez said he perceives a rift between the three engineering disciplines but feels this event will change that.
“There’s this presumption that mechanical is the hardest of the three engineering disciplines, but all are hard and essential to making the world work,” he said. “My goal is to break down those barriers with this event while uniting the WKU community as a whole.”
Gonzalez said the department is tightly knit and he knows both of the people who are battling cancer.
“The first friend was an RA in Minton who graduated in May in mechanical engineering,” he said. “He was married in June and got diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma about three or four weeks ago. He’s at the treatment stage where bills keep coming in, so we’re reaching out to help.”
The other student battling cancer is a current senior and civil engineering major who was diagnosed with Stage III brain cancer last spring, Gonzalez said.
“His recovery process has been much longer, but he’s doing a lot better,” he said. “Several engineering students built a concrete canoe for him and wrote ‘courageous’ on it as a sign of gratitude.”
Bowling Green senior Darren Tinker, the other creator of WKU Night who’s also a mechanical engineering major, said he hopes this event will make an impact, small or large.
“In all honesty, the amount of money we raise is not important,” Tinker said. “The fact that we raised money and are able to make a difference is important. I consider a contribution significant regardless of how much it is.”
Ultimately, Gonzalez and Tinker want to help their peers.
“After some nostalgic conversation, Reed and I wanted to make a difference,” Tinker said. “Our department had seen two of our students suffering and we felt that we could help. I hope that whatever we raise is enough to make their lives easier and to help the cure and prevention of cancer.”
Additionally, Gonzalez said, the park is rarely open at night.
“I love the parks at night — who doesn’t?” he said. “Everything is more magical when the lights are on.”