Adam Reagan has heart.
The UNC Asheville Information Technology Services applications analyst has made philanthropy central in his life, despite a cardiac diagnosis that would sideline most people.
It was this ability to overcome adversity combined with an unwavering commitment to volunteerism that earned Reagan the University of North Carolina Staff Assembly’s first Erskine Bowles Service Award. He was recognized at a special ceremony in Chapel Hill on October 12. UNC President Erskine Bowles, for whom the award was named, and UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder presented Reagan with the award.
The UNC Staff Assembly, composed of staff members from all 17 UNC system campuses, UNC Public Television, North Carolina Arboretum and General Administration. It works to improve communications and morale while increasing efficiency and productivity in campus operations. Reagan serves as communications officer for the organization.
“Adam is a humbling person,” said Chris Miller, UNC Asheville health and safety officer, who serves on the assembly with Reagan. “Every time I am around him, I find out something amazing that he’s done.”
Those amazing things didn’t stop when Reagan got some bad news last spring. While running a 5K race, Reagan lost consciousness and suffered from puzzling short-term memory loss. Doctors were baffled and ordered tests, then more tests. Finally, they discovered a misrouted artery that often spells sudden cardiac death, but after additional consultations they advised Reagan that he could resume his strenuous running and exercising routines. While some might take such a diagnosis as a reason to scale back on life, Reagan did just the opposite.
Since the diagnosis, Reagan was selected from the National Bone Marrow Registry as a match for an anonymous 43-year-old with leukemia. With clearance from his doctors, Reagan travelled to Washington, D.C., to undergo a peripheral blood stem cell donation, saving the life of a stranger. He continued working via computer from his hospital bed, participating in a video conference with his departmental colleagues and staying on top of e-mails.
His generosity of spirit goes on. Reagan is co-chair of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event in Biltmore Park. He also served as facilitator for the 2010 Relay For Life South Atlantic Division’s National Focus on Leadership Conference. Earlier this year, he was a member of the statewide Have-A-Heart Campaign committee, which collected 11,000 pounds of food for hunger relief charities, and more than 400 pairs of shoes for Haiti earthquake victims. In his Fletcher neighborhood, Reagan serves on the homeowners’ association advisory board and is the chair of the architectural review committee. On campus, he has served on the Chancellor’s Staff Advisory Committee, Transportation Committee, Excellence in Public Service Committee and State Employees Combined Campaign Committee. He is also a regular blood platelet donor.
In what little free time he has, Reagan teaches indoor cycling (spinning) classes three times per week and takes courses toward a master’s degree—his second—in project management from Western Carolina.
“It’s a busy schedule. I usually eat dinner around 9 p.m. and go to bed to get ready to do it all again,” Reagan admits. “But the things I do, I do because I enjoy them. My goal in life is to humbly help humanity.”