By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN When Sheryl Hill’s 16-year-old son, Tyler, went to Japan as a People to People student ambassador in 2007, Sheryl never imagined it would be the last “goodbye” she’d ever say to him.
Tyler died during his trip, and his family was left to piece together what had happened.
“It was a preventable death,” said Sheryl, who lives in Mound with her husband, Allen, and son, Alec.
According to the Fallen Heroes Project website, Tyler (who had Type-1 diabetes) reported altitude sickness after climbing Mount Fuji. The site stated there was evidence he asked for medical attention, but none was provided.
Tyler died June 29, 2007, at the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center. Hospital officials stated he could have been saved with timely medical attention.
Today, Sheryl’s goal is to prevent other people from going through the same heartache her family suffered. To bring public awareness to student study abroad safety standards, Sheryl and her husband founded ClearCause Foundation in 2011.
Fundraiser June 30
The public is welcome to attend a fundraiser for ClearCause, which will take place at Woodland Hill Winery in Delano Sunday, June 30 from 4 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 each, or $250 for a table of 10. The Around the World Safely Benefit will include dinner, a silent auction, wine tasting, a bonfire, musical entertainment, carriage rides, and more.
“Many other parents who share similar tragedies are joining us at this year’s event,” Sheryl said.
The emcee will be Fox 9 News reporter Maury Glover, and musical entertainment will be provided by the Kromatique String Ensemble, and Do Da Day (vocals by Doreen Ariola, and Don Cordes on guitar, fiddle, and banjo). Classic Kathak dances from India will also be performed.
Cultural cuisine will be from Bukahara Indian Bistro, Gardens of Salonica, Redstone Grill, Rosa Mexicano, Spasso Italian Restaurant, and Sushi Fix. Award-winning master baker April Wysocki of Country Cake & Cupboard will provide desserts.
“We’re working to raise money for ASAPP [a student abroad preparedness plan],” Sheryl said.
ClearCause aims to heighten public awareness and increase safety standards for youth travel/study abroad programs.
According to a website the Hill family began in Tyler’s honor, tylerhill.org, there are no federal criteria for operating programs abroad, and there is no federal protocol for reporting abuse, accidents, injuries, and deaths.
Sheryl said she values the opportunities young people have to travel abroad, and her family has hosted students from Finland, France, Sweden, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Chile, and Brazil.
Safety needs to be a top priority, however, she added.
A few tips for safe travels (from tylerhill.org) include:
• Learn how to dial home and emergency in your foreign country, because 911 may not be available.
• Carry photo identification with emergency contact information in the language of the country you are visiting.
• Parents, have a passport ready to go in case your child needs you while traveling abroad.
• Register your trip with the US Department of State.
If you’re going . . .
Seats are still available for the Around the World Safely Benefit. Here are the details:
• What: Wine tasting, cultural foods, musical entertainment, speakers, games, carriage rides, and a silent auction.
• Where: Woodland Hill Winery, 731 Co. Rd. 30 SE in Delano
• When: Sunday, June 30 from 4 to 8 p.m.
• Cost: Tickets are $25 each, or $250 for a table of 10. Silent auction donations and corporate sponsorships are also welcomed.
• Why: Proceeds will support ClearCause Foundation initiatives to keep students safe when they are studying abroad.
• Contact: To register, go to www.clearcausefoundation.org/events or call (952) 292-2725.