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Adventist Community Comes Together in Support for Critically Injured WWU Student


The Adventist community has come together in prayer as Walla Walla University student Madison Baird is fighting for her life at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, following a serious bicycle-vehicle collision.

Yesterday afternoon Baird was seen putting on her reflective safety gear and heading out of the student-run coffee shop on campus to ride her bicycle. Not far from campus, Baird was struck on her bicycle by a pickup truck driving westbound. According to the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office, they believe the accident occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m. An experienced traffic investigator was on the scene until around 7:30 p.m. studying the location of the incident on Whitman Avenue.

The Sheriff’s Office believes the setting sun likely caused low visibility, and may have been a contributing factor in the accident.

Baird was initially taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Walla Walla before being airlifted to Seattle.

Kim Strobel, WWU’s Marketing and Enrollment Services supervisor, says that the university is working with the local sherriff to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information.

“Our Walla Walla University family aches for Madison, and we’re keeping her in constant prayer,” said WWU President John McVay in a statement made on the university website. “Through prayer groups and vigils last night and this morning, we’re signaling our support to her family and care team in Seattle.”

According to WWU professor Rosemarie Buck, who is a Facebook contact of Baird’s father, Art Giebel, Giebel posted a Facebook update on her progress from Seattle, stating it was “a miracle that she is still alive and survived the night.”

Giebel thanked the community for its outpouring of support and prayers, and asked for continued prayer for her healing.

“She is still very much in a coma, but our hearts and minds are drawn to the assurance that God loves us so much and feels our pain,” wrote Giebel. “We never have to wonder about His attitude toward us or His desire for healing. We continue to watch and pray … Thanking each of you for joining us in praying for Miracle Maddy. 
She started the evening with labile vital signs. Some transfusions later, her oxygenation, pulse, blood pressure are stabilizing. She is still fighting for her life.”

Last night students met all over the Walla Walla University campus to pray and for Baird’s healing and to sing songs of comfort and hope. Many of Baird’s close friends drove over four hours last night to Harborview Medical Center to be near her, including Walla Walla University Church youth pastor Troy Fitzgerald.

Today at noon, the student association vice president Austin Roberts will lead a prayer service and a moment of silence for Baird in front of the administration building in the middle of campus. Roberts says anyone is welcome to attend.

Prayer requests for Baird continue to flood social media. Students are circulating the hashtags #MaddyStrong and #PrayforMadisonBaird. They have also created images of Baird to share on social media platforms in an effort spread the word of her accident and encourage prayer.

WWU student Kurtis Lamberton posted a photo on Instagram of the Walla Walla, WA sunrise this morning with this comment: “It’s hard to look at the beauty of today with a tragedy from yesterday on our hearts. Praying that Madison will be protected and healed. May the sunrise this morning be a beautiful reminder of Gods hand in her life, always.”

Tiffany Nelson, a WWU student who is currently studying in Valencia, Spain as part of the Adventist Colleges Abroad Program wrote on Facebook this morning: 

It’s amazing how regardless where we are, whether Spain, Argentina, Pohnpei, Thailand, Loma Linda, or back in College Place we can come together as a school and lift up this beautiful girl in prayer during this time of trouble. This is what being a church is all about. Our prayers are being sent out all the way from Spain for Maddy. I believe in a God that give peace and cares for us. Please take a second and continue praying for her recovery.”

According to the university website, Baird is a 20 year old sophomore Spanish major with a focus in pre-professional programs in nutrition and dietetics.

Rachel Logan is a writing intern for Spectrum Magazine.

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