The message of Rachael’s First Week to rising college freshmen is simple – “For the first time in your life, you’re on your own, now look out for each other.” The program was first presented at Zionsville High School where Rachael attended. Though this program was full of good intentions when conceived, it could have easily failed as a “one and done” from lack of organization and commitment. However, one individual took it upon himself to develop Rachael’s First Week into a program that is currently highly sought by high school administrators, sororities and college campus organizations. Through his visions, tenacity and technical expertise, Alex Rhea has produced a program that has been experienced by over 1200 students in the past 12 months and is poised to triple that amount in the next 12 months. RFW was not only unique enough to be incorporated into several high schools’ curriculum, it was also recognized as an innovation in Emergency Medicine being selected as an oral presentation at Society of Academic Emergency Medicine this May.
Alex embodies what is meant by advocacy. He never knew Rachael. But he understood Rachael and how her death could be used to positively impact others. He molded her story into a learning experience palatable to a difficult to reach audience. His contribution to this niche group has and will save many lives and prevent the tragic fallout that has the potential to occur during the tumultuous times experienced by college freshmen. Imagine the impact if every one of us used our talents with the passion to help one small underserved group in society, just as Alex Rhea has done. It is only fitting that Alex Rhea is designated as the very first of Rachael’s Heroes.