Embry-Riddle Aviation student Marieka Waites’ dream of becoming a commercial pilot was put on hold when a car accident left her in a wheelchair this spring. The sophomore, who lives in St. Augustine, FL, was on her way to Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus when a car accident left her with a broken pelvis, torn hip joints and three broken vertebrates.
As she recovers and learns to walk again, members of Embry-Riddle’s Women in Aviation Chapter are hosting fundraisers to offset Waites’ medical and living expenses.
Women in Aviation is an international nonprofit dedicated to providing education and mentoring for students who are pursuing careers in the aviation and space industries. The Daytona Beach chapter offers opportunities for students to participate in community service and travel to the annual WAI conference.
“Aviation is a tight-knit community, so being able to give back to others can do so much and it creates a lasting impression on people who are looking at our industry,” said Mackenzie Lowen, president of Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Women in Aviation chapter.
On June 15, Women in Aviation will host a fundraiser for Waites at Buffalo Wing Wings, 2479 W. International Speedway Blvd., from 11 a.m. to midnight. During the fundraiser, Buffalo Wild Wings will donate 10 percent of the checks from customers who attend on Waites’ behalf.
On June 24, Panda Express, 2310 W. International Speedway, Daytona Beach, will give 20 percent of customers’ checks to WAI’s fundraiser for Waites from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Customers at both locations must present a flyer for the fundraiser. Flyers can be downloaded here.
Waites is also accepting donations through an online fundraising page.
Waites moved to Florida to attend Embry-Riddle last year with her husband, Eric, who serves in the U.S. Navy. Before the accident, she was working on her pilot’s license. The accident halted her flight training, but Waites was able to complete one core Aviation class after her accident via Skype. She hopes to resume classes in the Fall, as she undergoes rehabilitation to learn how to walk again.
“Flying is amazing, you get to see the landscape and everything around you and are completely in control of the aircraft,” Waites said. “I like the challenge it brings. I think WAI is a great group and I hope to get more involved with them when I get back to school. I can’t thank them enough for helping me.”
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit erau.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.