Rachael's Heroes

Recognizing those who act with compassion toward others.

On August 23, 2013, 19-year-old Rachael Fiege died tragically when she fell down basement stairs after she had been at IU only 48 hours. Rachael’s First Week was born from her death. It was a program designed to address the overwhelming perception of invincibility experienced by high school seniors as they launch from home into adulthood at the beginning of college. Rachael’s Heroes are individuals who do the right thing out of compassion for others, even when that may not be the easiest path to take.


James M. Danko

James M. Danko became the 21st president of Butler University in 2011. For the past four years at Butler's convocation, he has shared Rachael's story with the incoming class—as both a cautionary tale and as a call to action. He recommends that students visit rachaelsfirstweek.com to learn about making smart choices, and he asks them to intervene when they see someone in trouble. "Help someone out who doesn't realize the kind of trouble that they're in," he said at the 2018 convocation. "We depend on each of you to watch over each other." He is honored to have been named a "Rachael's Hero."

Ryan Conrad

Ryan, a Purdue College student, while looking out for a friend and making good decisions, ended up saving a friend.

Alex Rhea

For vision, tenacity, and technical expertise that got Rachael's First Week off the ground.

Shelby Border

Shelby is the daughter of Sharyl Border, who is a huge part of our program. Shelby is a Rachael's Hero! She made the call for a friend after an accident and ultimately saved her life. We thank Shelby for her bravery and strength in moment when people were telling her not to make the call.