One thing everyone associated with Baker knows to be true—whether they be alumni, staff, faculty, or current students—is how strong the sense of community and the depth of support are among fellow Wildcats, in both good times and difficult ones. Graduates know that walking across the stage at commencement is not the end of their Baker journey. Many have forged lifelong friendships that withstand time and distance. For Don and Cindy Rogers, their Baker family came to their aid when they needed it most.
Don, ’69, Delta Tau Delta, and Cindy, ’70, Delta Delta Delta, have been loyal supporters of the football team and attend games and alumni events whenever possible. However, suddenly in August 2015, Cindy, who is a descendant of Baker University President Nelson Horn (1936-1956), became ill with a severe case of necrotic pancreatitis. With no symptoms, this news blindsided the Rogers, who were in the middle of a Texas-to-Kansas City move.
Doctors at Methodist Dallas Medical Center told the couple that Cindy had one of the worst cases of pancreatitis that they had seen. Soon, she was in the ICU.
As news of her illness spread, the Rogers began to receive numerous offers of help from friends, family, and members of the Baker community. Cindy was so ill at the time, she was not fully aware of how much support they were receiving. Friends and family stepped up to help the Rogers’ children—Brian, Jeff, and Katie Glasscock, ’99— coordinate the move for their parents. Baker friends were waiting in the Lenexa area for the moving truck, where they helped to unload, unpack, and prepare the house— from pulling weeds to putting dishes away.
Baker friends were not just helping, they were dropping everything to come to visit them.
“Other Baker friends offered to come to Dallas and assist with Cindy’s care,” Don said. “They made the long drive to come sit by her side and offer us both the moral support we needed. One friend even went shopping for new clothes, which really brightened Cindy’s day.”
During this time in the hospital, the Rogers also received phone calls from Baker friends who had heard about Cindy and offered help in any measure. Many of the calls ended with a statement of “I will be there tomorrow.” One friend cut his business trip short to visit and another researched where Cindy could find the best medical care for her condition. Luckily, some of the best doctors were right there in Dallas.
“We received calls from Baker friends from New Jersey to California, Washington to Florida, and seemingly everywhere in between,” Don said.
Their daughter launched a Caring Bridge site for Cindy to keep friends and loved ones up to date on her condition. Looking back at the site now, there have been over 45,000 views from people wanting to stay informed about her condition. A GoFundMe site was also created to help with the costs of the move and travel costs for their children.
After 10 months, in June 2016, Cindy was finally released to go home. The Rogers still receive messages and calls from the Baker community asking how they are doing. Nearly two years after the illness struck, Cindy is about 80 percent recovered. She still deals with residual effects, but she is optimistic they will be resolved.
Don and Cindy’s favorite hobby is spending time with their grandchildren. They plan to attend football games this fall and look forward to seeing “those old friends as often as we can.” And when Cindy’s health allows it, they plan to travel to see some of the friends who have come to their aid over the past two years.
“Throughout these events that turned our lives upside down, we’ve come to appreciate the importance of friends and family,” Don said. “Cindy said she could feel her strength improving knowing so many were thinking about her and including us in their prayers. Baker University has been such an important part of our lives for the last 50 years, and clearly it came to our aid when we needed it most.”