A Saint Viator parent was named one of Chicago Magazine’s 2015 Chicagoans of the Year in its latest edition, but those in the Saint Viator High School community already know of his good works.
Will Beiersdorf appears in the December edition, in a profile titled, “The Good Soldier.” In it, the story details his journey from Naval reservist called up after 9/11 to serve at Guantanamo Bay, to advocate for military families and injured vets.
He and his wife, Mary Beth, a member of Saint Viator’s Board of Trustees, formed Salute, Inc., in 2003 and over the last 12 years have helped support the needs of more than 2,000 returning soldiers.
Now, Will Beiersdorf has taken their mission further and is heading up The Road Home project at Rush University Medical Center, which treats military veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome and other brain-related injuries.
The hospital has embraced his project so much, that officials are doubling the space for his offices next year for the caseload that doubled in one year.
This year, as part of the many workshops offered on St. Viator Day, Mary Beth and Angela Brey, a Saint Viator parent and three-year volunteer case manager at Salute, coordinated with Mrs. Barb D’Urso in the religion department to form a letter writing campaign to active duty soldiers in Afghanistan (students are now receiving letters back from soldiers).
Also, since 2009, he and his wife have enabled members of the boys’ cross country team to support runners in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Specifically, they cheered on members of Team Salute, which raises money for the nonprofit’s emergency assistance fund for military families. They partnered with Marine cadets from the ROTC program at University of Illinois at Chicago, to cheer on the more than 100 Team Salute runners — including Fr. Dan Hall, CSV — and support the Beiersdorfs’ original mission of helping to meet the financial, physical and emotional needs of returning military.