From Tragedy to Triumph ...
The birth of a 501(c)(3) organization

Dave Schury, burn survivorIn addition to providing emotional support to burn survivors and their families, From Tragedy to Triumph provides financial support through scholarships to young people once traumatized by burn injuries, so they may pursue collegiate education. The Foundation has developed a sound business plan to provide services initially on a state-wide basis, eventually growing into a regional and then national service provider. As a 501(c)(3) organization, we are eager to provide this valuable missing support to burn survivors.

Tragedy to Triumph Foundation was created by David Schury, a 34 year employee of Commonwealth Edison, the electric company in Chicago. In April 13, 2000, an event happened that changed his life forever and led to the creation of the Foundation. 

On that day, in a substation in Chicago, a rat chewed a wire, short-circuiting a 12,000-volt piece of equipment causing an explosion. In the blink of an eye, Dave was burned over 30% of his body. He spent the next two weeks fighting for his life in the burn unit at Cook County Hospital.

During his recovery, Dave heard about a camp for child burn survivors called “Camp I Am Me.” He volunteered to be a counselor at the camp. The annual week-long camp, sponsored by the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, serves burn survivors ages 8-16 in providing them with a friendly, comfortable environment where they can receive support and build friendships with others like themselves. Initially, it was very emotional to see young people with such severe burns and scars, but Dave has since spent one week each summer helping the kids reconnect with life in this healing environment. He has been a volunteer counselor since 2000.

Dave and burn campIt was also at Camp I Am Me where he met Barry Bennett, a social worker for Loyola Hospital’s Burn Center. In 2001, Barry told Dave about the Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) program that was being initiated at Loyola. This Phoenix Society-developed program for peer support connects those who have survived at least a year after being burned with those currently patients in the burn center.

Since 2002, Dave and his wife, Michele, have worked with burn survivors and their families within the SOAR program, offering their experiences and support to survivors and their families, helping them through these traumatic events in any way possible. It is one thing for a doctor to tell someone they will recover - but it is something entirely different for people like Dave and his wife, who have personally been through what the patients are going through, to provide support and assure the patient that he or she will indeed recover.

This important component of support during recovery was something that Dave and Michele never received when he was burned, so they vowed to never let anyone go through that experience alone. The Tragedy to Triumph Foundation is the direct result of the commitment of Dave and Michele to provide this vital and often missing component of post-burn care not only for the survivor, but for his or her spouse or significant other and family.

The Jefferson Award

In 2009, Dave received a Jefferson Award, which is given to those who have done outstanding volunteer work in their community. Through receiving the award, he was invited to and attended the national awards ceremony in Washington D.C. There, he met many other individuals who have done wonderful things and he and his wife became inspired to do even more to help burn survivors. They are putting their inspiration into action through the establishment of this Foundation.