Ten UI students raise money for wounded SEALs

BY MICHELLE KIM | MAY 10, 2013 5:00 AM

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The U.S. Navy SEALs are selected through a physical and mental military-training process. Once they are done, their job puts them in potentially dangerous situations, sometimes leaving them wounded.

Ten University of Iowa students are working to raise money in order to provide wounded SEALs with tailored clothing for special occasions.

The initiative — Suits 4 SEALS — splits members of the group into three teams: promotion and publicity, community outreach, and web. The project is aiming to raise $10,000 that will be used mainly for tailors, clothes, and the plane tickets that will take the SEALs to Chicago to get their sizes measured.

These 10 students are part of a bigger fundraising initiative.

Led by Joseph Sulentic, a lecturer in the UI Tippie College of Business and instructor for the Social Entrepreneurship course, 63 students are participating in various other projects, such as raising money for the Cedar Rapids Boys and Girls Club.

“When you do a real project, you run into roadblocks,” Sulentic said. “It’s important to learn that you maneuver around roadblocks, and come up with a solution, and become critical thinkers.”

One roadblock came with promotion. Juliana Fabiano, a former Daily Iowan employee, took responsibility for the video posted on GoFundMe.

“We tried to get Navy SEALS to talk to us so they could be interviewed on tape, but Navy SEALS are really secure on their identities,” she said.

This is not the first time the course raised money through the students’ projects. In 2002, the students were able to raise $25,000 in donations to send to the New York City Fire Department, and in the last three years, they’ve raised $10,000 in donations, which were sent to UI Children’s Hospital.

The effort to provide clothing for the SEALs was inspired by a visit by a retired Navy SEAL earlier this semester.

The SEAL was invited as a guest lecturer, and he shared his stories from his time in Afghanistan. He also introduced a company called Wounded Wear, which was initiated by his injured compatriot.

“[The retired SEAL] gave us a moving speech, and we all just kind of sat there and were all inspired by his bravery,” said Samantha Saltess, a senior at the UI, who works on the promotion and publicity team. “He was telling us how he got shot on his leg and how his team came to save him. [Our team] thought, ‘How can we give back to these people who gave so much to us?’ ”

Ultimately, the goal for the project is to host a tailoring event on Aug. 17.

Sulentic is enthusiastic about the Suits 4 SEALS project.

“The SEALs have done so much to help the country,” he said. “We just wanted to have a token of our appreciation to help their lives and try to make it better.”

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