When Dewey Clayton realized the plume of smoke billowing from his neighborhood was created by his burning home a month ago, he first thought, ‘What am I going to do?’
“It’s sort of surreal, because you sit there and you think it would never happen to you,” Clayton said. “It was a total loss.”
A month later, the former cornerback of the Weber State University Football Team watched University President Ann Millner fall into the water of a dunk tank during a fundraising effort Tuesday for his displaced family.
“I feel like I was just a student here at Weber State, but after today, ‘just a student here at Weber State’ has a different meaning,” Clayton said. “Being a student here at Weber State means you’re part of a family.”
It only took a throw to dunk Millner. Student Body President Kyle Braithwaite was the first to hit the mark.
“I’m just totally impressed with President Millner,” Braithwaite said. “There’s not a lot of presidents of universities who would get up there and put themselves out there and really just give it all for a student for a university. What a fun opportunity for the student body president to dunk the president of the university.”
He said it was that sense of community he felt while visiting the campus on a recruiting trip a decade ago that drew Clayton to the university.
“I’m just really grateful to be a Wildcat,” Clayton said.
Millner donated $50 to the fundraiser and matched the donations of anyone who misfired when attempting to dunk her for the $1 price of throwing a ball.
“We want to support our students at Weber State, and we know that they go through difficult and challenging times, and this is one way that we can show that the Weber State community cares about each and every individual student,” Millner said. “What’s really wonderful is to see everybody here and participating and having fun with this, as well as raising money for a very good cause.”
Clayton stayed at his mother-in-law’s house with his family for a few days after his Herriman home was burned. His family is currently renting a home near Ben Lomond High School, but he said he feels like he’s taking steps to becoming a homeowner again.
Earlier Tuesday, Service Vice President Dallas Saxton led an effort to make kits for low-income students at Odyssey Elementary School in Ogden. They filled about 50 drawstring backpacks with notebooks, pens, crayons and other school supplies.
“I feel it’s important to show these kids that their education is valued and that it is cared about, because they don’t get that a lot,” Saxton said. “It shows that the kids’ education is valued by others in the community.”
It also helps them believe in themselves, Saxton said.
“(It shows them) they are somebody and they can achieve anything they want if they put their minds to it,” Saxton said. “I think if we go out lend them a hand by supplying them these things that they can see how much we care about them. They’ll also maybe see a little bit of how important higher education is.”