Military fitness challenge raises money for Bute scholarship

Allison Mueller

A military fitness challenge is being held to raise money for a scholarship in Derek Bute’s honor. Bute was killed in an accident this January. (Contributed photo)
A military fitness challenge is being held to raise money for a scholarship in Derek Bute’s honor. Bute was killed in an accident this January. (Contributed photo)

Elizabeth Pulanco / Winonan

For members of the Health Exercise and Rehabilitative Sciences (HERS) department, losing student Derek Bute was difficult for students, professors and advisors. As a way to honor his memory, a scholarship is being dedicated in his name. To fundraise for this scholarship, athletic and military fitness challenges will be held.

Bute, a Winona State University exercise science major, died this January after being struck by a train.

HERS professor and Bute’s aunt, Shellie Nelson, felt like creating the scholarship in his name was the natural thing to do.

“Derek was so passionate about his education and the work he was doing at Winona State,” Nelson said. “It really created a hole in the students’ lives when he passed away, so it just seemed like the right thing to do.”

According to Nelson, in order to create a scholarship, individuals must go to the Winona State University Foundation office and fill out paperwork. There are different kinds of scholarships, and each one follows different guidelines for funding.

“You need $30,000 for an endowed scholarship, and the interest made off of the $30,000 is what will be given out each year,” Nelson said. “We won’t have the $30,000 right away, but my goal is three to five years.”

For the time being, Nelson and other members of the department will be creating a blended scholarship, awarding $1,000 scholarships while building up the base goal of $30,000.

In order to raise the money for the scholarship, Nelson and people within the HERS department will be hosting a fundraiser featuring different athletic and military challenges. Bute was a sergeant in the National Guard, and to honor his military service, Nelson has been working with people at Rochester’s Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-Station.

“The Marines have done their training challenge for the football team and the rugby team,” Nelson said. “Capt. Jacob Roche has been very helpful with narrowing down activities and will have Marines come down and help us run and set up the events.”

To help organize the fundraising event, Nelson has recruited members of student clubs within the HERS department, including the exercise science, movement science, cardiac rehab and athletic training clubs.

“I think the students involved are very committed to it,” Nelson said. “They want to honor Derek and do something grand that equates to the impact that he had on them.”

Erika Tollefson, vice president of the exercise science club, did not know Bute personally, but was happy to take the opportunity to honor his memory.

“When he died, seeing the whole department so upset was difficult,” Tollefson said. “I am blessed to be surrounded by all these people who cared about someone so much.”

As part of the planning for the event, the students involved have been gathering sponsorship from businesses around the city. A few businesses, like Hiawatha Broadcasting Communications (HBC) and Zaza’s have already committed to sponsorships.

“It has been a lot of networking,” Tollefson said.

Nelson also mentioned how she is trying to get different sporting good stores around Winona involved with the event as well.

Senior Emily Meskan, an athletic training major, had the chance to take a few classes with Derek before he switched majors and thinks honoring him with an athletic military challenge is the perfect fit.

“It’s a good memorial for him,” Meskan said. “It is always good to remember someone by taking a part in something they would be involved with.”

Not only will the event hold different military challenges, but different booths with snacks and T-shirts will also bet set up.

“There will be different stations with snacks and Gatorade,” Nelson said. “There will be different categories for the challenges, like team

activities and men and women. People from the physical education department have different

equipment for kids so they can get involved too.

Even if people don’t want to take part in the fitness activities they can buy a T-shirt and be involved with the day and help celebrate Derek’s life.”

Even before the event has started, people have already donated to the cause. On Sunday, March 20, Sigma Tau hosted a pancake breakfast at the Winona VFW to benefit the fundraiser.

Nelson and the group of students started planning the fundraiser one month before spring break. Although the group is excited to host the event and celebrate Derek, planning the event while still dealing with their grief has been tough.

“I wanted to try and create a vehicle for the students and members of the department to work through their grief and do something positive,” Nelson said. “I think next year, I’ll have fun with it, but this year has been difficult.”

Even though the planning of the event has been difficult, the event itself will be a celebration of Bute’s life and the impact he had on the Winona State community.

The Derek Bute Military Fitness Challenge will be held on April 10 on Maxwell Field at 2 p.m.

Registration and corporate sponsorship forms can be found on campus, and online registration is also available. The fundraising event can also be found on Facebook, which shows 41 people to attend and 54 interested as of Monday, March 21.