Why I Give
Continuing the tradition of FarmHouse, remembering a loved one, giving back to something that changed your life...each day we hear a new reason you chose to make a gift to the FarmHouse Foundation. Share your reason by emailing Andrea@FarmHouse.org.
A life-altering accident inspires Vince Ulstad (ND ’79) to create an endowment fund to support young FarmHouse men with disabilities, a first of its kind in the Fraternity world.
I WANTED TO DO SOMETHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY
I WANTED TO DO SOMETHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY
“My life literally changed overnight,” reflects Vince Ulstad (ND ’79). One night in June 2009, Vince was heading home from work when a drunk driver, driving the wrong direction down the interstate, struck his pickup head-on. The other driver was killed on impact and Vince’s life would never be the same.
The impact of the crash was so severe that, despite the protection of air bags, the steering wheel wrapped around his head. His doctors didn’t expect Vince to live—he had lost too much blood and his organs started shutting down. However, after multiple surgeries and 55 units of blood (enough to fill five human bodies), his doctors were able to stabilize him.
Despite his stable condition, doctors prepared his family for the possibility that he might spend the rest of his life in a vegetative state, due to the extent of damage to his head and the amount of blood lost. Five weeks after the accident, Vince beat the odds again and woke up from his coma.
“I don’t remember the accident. The first thing I remember is waking up in the hospital bed in pitch black darkness and hearing others in my room speaking…it was surreal,” he said.
Due to the extensive loss of blood to the optic nerve in his eyes, doctors told him he would never see again. On top of recovering from multiple surgeries, he was also faced with adapting to a life without sight at the age of 52.
Vince never gave up hope, although the road to recovery was bleak at times. “Since that night three and a half years ago, my life has been so drastically different, but I can honestly say these past few years have been some of the best of my life,”Vince said.
He credits his faith, the support of family and friends, the medical community and the example his parents set for him for getting him through and developing his character in the process.
“I don’t believe my positive outlook on life is due to some inherent quality within me. I don’t think I’m unique either. Since the accident, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, many of them with disabilities worse than mine. They still have a great outlook on life and such character. Often, when I meet these people, especially the young men, I think, ‘he would make a great FarmHouse man’,” Vince added.
Vince’s North Dakota State fraternity brothers saw his inner strength long before the accident. “During my time in FarmHouse, Vince taught me the importance of faith, character, humor, studies, hard work and being kind to all. Nothing could rattle him. This made up his core foundation. When he had his accident, he didn’t need to learn these virtues or traits for the first time. They were there already to draw from and build upon, as he has done. Vince continues to teach his brothers much,” said Jim Lodoen (ND ’79).
It was this strength of character that helped him adapt to a new life. “I remember thinking, not in a fit of pity, but with clarity, that my life, at least the life I had known, was over. I should have known that with all the technological advances we have, this wasn’t true. I became exposed to many assistive technologies, allowing me to do many of the things I was used to doing. They’ve made a world of difference. They brought me to a place where I felt good about life,” Vince said.
He also made the decision early in his recovery to focus on making a difference to others. He volunteers with a coalition of public and law enforcement agencies to share his story and the dangers of drunk driving with high school students and college groups. He helps with public service announcements and serves on victim impact panels. He mentors young people who are blinded by accidents.
It was this passion for helping others and his experience with assistive technologies that he established the Vincent L. Ulstad Endowment Fund. He is passionate about ensuring the necessary software and equipment is available to young men with disabilities joining FarmHouse Fraternity, and that the lack of these technologies won’t prevent them from joining.
His goal is to see the fund grow to $1 million through his contributions and encouraging others to give. A first of its kind for any fraternity or sorority foundation, his hope is that this fund will have long-lasting value and impact on young men facing challenges similar to those he’s faced.
The first grant from the Ulstad Endowment Fund will be awarded this fiscal year. Vince’s character and spirit will touch and forever change the lives of FarmHouse members for years to come.
Ulstad Endowment Fund
The purpose of the fund is to provide financial support for the following:
Purchase and adoption of assistive technologies and equipment for the use of chapter members who are disabled or handicapped during their college careers.
Defray additional costs incurred by an undergraduate member who is handicapped or disabled in attending FarmHouse programs and other educational conferences.
Programming at FarmHouse leadership conferences to educate chapter members about disability awareness.
Provide funding for the renovation of chapter house facilities as necessary to accommodate current or future undergraduate members who are disabled or handicapped.