From the moment you step on James Madison University’s campus you are bombarded with excitement and school spirit. The term bleeding purple is one that is not only shared but embodied by students and faculty alike. JMU is more than just a college campus, it is an attitude, a passion, and a home for anyone in the community. My name is Elayna Cross, and I am a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, and it is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to the next recipient of the 2017 All Together One Award, Mr. Chase Dunn. Chase is a senior Communications Major and a true ambassador of both the JMU and the All Together One spirit.

In my time here at JMU I have always been in awe over how the Marching Royal Dukes show such an exuberant dedication for JMU on the field.   Chase, a proud member of the MRD’s carries that same energy with him no matter where he goes and what he does. When fellow members of the MRDs found themselves without a community as they made the transition into their first year at JMU Chase took it upon himself to make JMU their home. He went out of his way to fill in as a pseudo-FROG for members in the Marching Royal Dukes who missed the initial orientation given to first years. Whether it was a tour of campus, a how to on opening the mailboxes, or even a rundown of the dos and don’ts to campus life, including where to eat, Chase was the leading factor for these students in evolving to JMU beyond a university, and into a family. But Chase’s desire to be a friend to all didn’t end as classes reached full swing. He made time not only to juggle his class schedule, his work schedule, his Marching Royal Dukes and his pep band schedule, but also to attend presentations and workshops across campus, simply to relish in “seeing his fellow Dukes do such great things.”

While Chase’s leadership is clearly evident in his involvement at JMU, especially on the sidelines of every basketball and football game, his leadership extends beyond the JMU bubble and deep into the heart of the Harrisonburg community. Since coming to college Chase observed an injustice that plagued minorities throughout Harrisonburg. Even though he could not relate personally to the challenges faced by those in the Black community, he saw that there was a need for a feeling of safety shared by all that wasn’t being met. Chase, with the support of his brother and a friend, took it upon himself to learn about the issues in the community through personal communication and news reports. With an open mind Chase gathered this information and took to the streets of downtown Harrisonburg, organizing a Black Lives Matter march and relaying the concerns of the Harrisonburg community to Members of Congress. Chase, despite not personally facing the injustices he witnessed, realized that he could be the voice of a community that is often left unheard.

While personally I have only known Chase on paper for three weeks, and in person for two, I can attest to his character. There is a quote by Paramahansa Yogananda, that reads “There is a magnet in your heart that will attract true friends. That magnet is unselfishness, thinking of others first; when you learn to live for others, they will live for you.” This quote was given life as I planned the tapping ceremony to notify Chase of his nomination, and the preparation that led up to this event. Chase’s heart clearly contains a magnet unlike most, for his unselfishness and his choice to live for others has provided him with a group of friends willing to do whatever it takes to celebrate him. No matter who I spoke to about Chase, whether it be his nominators, his family, his fellow Marching Royal Dukes or even my professor while asking permission to be excused for this event, there was an excitement and a general buzz over recognizing a student who truly cannot be more deserving.

I am extremely honored to be standing here sharing the story of an incredible young man who has turned JMU and Harrisonburg into a community of compassion, justice, and light. It is because of Chase Dunn that the term “bleeding purple” has been given new meaning in both my eyes and the eyes of anyone who has the honor of knowing Chase. I am thrilled to be presenting one of the 2017 All Together One awards to Chase Dunn.

Written by: Elayna Cross

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