Purchase photos

Elevator takes riders to new heights

6/12/2014

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Jack Schramm looked up from his walker and smiled.

"Boy, this is a nice elevator," the 90-year-old Hays man said. "It's the right color, too."

Schramm is a graduate of St. Joseph College and Military Academy, one of the predecessors of what now is Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School. He returned to TMP as a fundraiser years later and started the Auction for Christian Education, which has raised nearly $6 million for the school in 40 years.

Schramm also founded the TMP Endowment Foundation, so it's safe to say Schramm bleeds blue and white, TMP's colors.

He approved of the navy-colored walls in the new elevator in the building where he used to live on the fourth floor, both as a student more than 70 years ago and as a TMP volunteer in his later years until he couldn't maneuver the steps anymore.

It's hard for Schramm to get around these days, but he was on hand Wednesday morning, along with approximately 50 other people, for a Hays Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting at the local Catholic school.

And he was able to reach the top floor with ease.

The $330,000 elevator project was funded by money raised at the 2013 ACE auction.

Showing off the elevator that was completed this spring in the 83-year-old administration building had been a long time coming, so Jeff Brull was in no hurry for people to leave after the ribbon cutting.

He enjoyed giving people rides up and down the elevator to and from the top floor, where they got the chance to browse the former student residency area that stands as one of the school's next main remodeling projects.

Brull, a 1994 graduate of TMP, now is advancement director at his alma mater.

"The elevator will provide people to have better access to our building and to all the activities that go on here," Brull said.

One of those is Raegan Billinger, who just finished her freshman year at TMP and was present Wednesday on crutches.

Billinger broke her leg in a Monarch soccer game this spring and made use of the new elevator the rest of the school year.

"It was really handy, being able to use (the elevator) the past couple of weeks of school," Billinger said.

"It's exciting to be part of a nontraditional tradition," said Tammy Wellbrock, executive director of the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce. "What a profound, impacting ribbon cutting."

"I like that phrase," Brull later said of Wellbrock's "nontraditional tradition" comment. "I think we'll start using that."