Three alumni will be awarded the university’s highest alumni honor on Sunday.
Dr. David (’82) and Laurie (’81) Vanderpool will receive the distinction of Outstanding Alumni of the Year for their humanitarian work in Haiti. Chelsea Buchholtz (’01) will receive the Young Alumnus of the Year award for her work in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. The Young Alumnus of the year award is an honor given to alumni below the age of 40.
The three will be awarded at a lunch on Sunday in the Teague Special Events Center with an expected 352 guests. The recipients are chosen in August by the Alumni Advisory Board, announced at Homecoming and honored at the end of Sing Song Weekend.
David Vanderpool graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and went on to complete medical school at Texas Tech and residency at Baylor University Medical Center, according to the Office of Alumni Relations. Laurie graduated with a degree in accounting.
The two have dedicated their lives to bringing mobile disaster relief to people around the world. In 2005, they founded Mobile Medical Disaster Relief (MMDR) after Hurricane Katrina. When a hurricane hit Haiti in 2010, David began making medical relief trips to the country and in 2013, the couple decided to sell their possessions, leave their Brentwood, Tennessee home and live in Thomazeau, Haiti full-time.
MMDR was rebranded as LiveBeyond and in the years since moving to Haiti, the Vanderpools established a base and medical clinic which cares for Haitians in the area. Laurie works with children in an educational program and runs a program called Johnny’s Kids to care for disabled children from surrounding villages.
“[The Vanderpools] have done so much to give up their personal belongings and dedicate their lives to serving the people of Haiti,” said Jama Cadle, assistant director of alumni relations. “It’s just so noble and they’ve touched so many lives – not only for the people of Haiti but for all those that go and help with their ministry.”
Buchholtz, a 2001 graduate, graduated with a degree in advertising and public relations and went on to get her Juris Doctor from Pepperdine Law School in 2005. She worked as an attorney in the Texas Court of Appeals, Fourth District in San Antonio and then served as assistant general counsel under Governor Rick Perry. She then worked as a policy advisor for Perry for nearly two years.
“Chelsea is a 2001 graduate and has proved herself very quickly,” said alumni relations officer Aubree Browning. “She’s very well-known in the state government.”
Buchholtz has worked in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department since 2012, serving now as chief of staff.
The alumni relations team has been working since October to plan ceremony honoring the Vanderpools and Buchholtz.
Craig Fisher, director of alumni relations, said at the end of a busy weekend on campus, the event is one of the most important days for the university each year.
“We bring a full house coming together of alumni and friends because of the commonality of ACU, and we celebrate our highest award winners amongst the greatest alumni base in the world,” Fisher said. “It’s a capstone on a weekend full of board meetings, president’s circle dinner, and Sing Song to celebrate the long running history of the great people that have come through this university.”