Former Student Government Preseident Still Diving in Where Needed

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kevin Burkart ’94, Prior Lake, isn’t Superman, but some people might argue otherwise.

After all, he’s jumped out of airplanes to raise money to fight Parkinson’s disease. And recently, he plunged into the muddy waters of a lake to find a wedding ring valued at more than $10,000.

You might remember seeing a brief mention of Burkart in the Spring 2008 Outlook for raising money to fight Parkinson’s disease. Because his father suffered from the disease, Burkart pledged “100 perfect jumps” in one day to raise $40,000. And then, this past June, Burkart made 150 successful jumps in one day to raise $68,000 more.  For his efforts,  Burkart has been selected to receive the Community Service Award from the National Parkinson Foundation.

His latest “heroics” came at Prior Lake’s Mud Bay.

Burkart, a former president of the St. Cloud State University Student Association, was settling down to a nice dinner around 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, when his phone rang.  Burkart, a scuba diving instructor, was being summoned because a woman had lost her wedding ring in the muddy water of Mud Bay.

It was a calm night, temps in the 60s, so Burkart decided what the heck, he’d give it a try.  By the time he had hear gear and lights and everything assembled, got to the lake, met the distraught couple, Doug and Felicia Schaefer, and got a bearing on the approximate location where the ring plopped into the water, it was about 9:30 p.m.

The sky was pitch black. Under the water, in the muck and mire, it was even darker. Despite having a halogen lamp and a flashlight as well as a light on his head gear, Burkart couldn’t see much of anything. He decided to grope around the lake bottom with a bare hand, where he uncovered “cigarette butts and aluminum cans, sticks and whatever,” he said. He was digging in about 3 to 4 inches of crud and couldn’t see a half inch in front of his nose when he saw a glint of something.

As he reached toward that glint he unearthed a wedding ring, a ring that Burkart said “wanted to be found, it spoke to me.” Like any unassuming superhero, Burkart wasn’t going to take any credit for the find. If it wasn’t the ring wanting to be found, it was the description that Felicia Schaefer, gave him. She pointed out a spot about 40 yards away from where she was that she thought the ring entered the water.

“Felicia really found it. She pointed out to within six feet where it was. That ring has good karma.”

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