Project carries on names of 12 lives lost in Aggie Bonfire collapse

Project carries on names of 12 lives lost in Aggie Bonfire collapse
Larry and Neva Hand, parents of Jamie Hand. (Source: KLTV Staff)
Larry and Neva Hand, parents of Jamie Hand. (Source: KLTV Staff)
A replica of the bronze portal that is in place at the Bonfire Memorial on the Texas A&M campus. (Source: KLTV Staff)
A replica of the bronze portal that is in place at the Bonfire Memorial on the Texas A&M campus. (Source: KLTV Staff)
(Source: Bonfire BUILD)
(Source: Bonfire BUILD)

HENDERSON, TX (KLTV) - A group of students at Texas A&M University is ensuring the names of the 12 lives lost at the Nov. 18, 1999 bonfire are carried on through a project called BUILD.

The organization got its start with a Habitat for Humanity project, but in its recent years it has been converting cargo trailers into fully-functioning medical centers that are being deployed across the globe.

The family of one of those 12 lost, Jamie Hand, of Henderson, says they are happy that their daughter's name is being carried on 17 years later.

"I just can't tell you how wonderful it feels to know that Jamie's name is associated with it," Neva Hand, Jamie's mother, said. "Those individuals who go to these clinics -- our students have taken pictures --- there are lines of people lined up to get medical treatment ... It's wonderful."

The Hand Family has had its Aggie roots, with Jamie and her siblings going to Texas A&M University. They say over time they understand what Bonfire meant to the school and to Jamie.

"I know that bonfire represented more than just a big pile of wood being burned," Hand said. "I realize that there was so much more behind it and I know that now because of what happened."

More Information: Texas A&M Bonfire Memorial

The BUILD team is finishing the final four trailers to be deployed to Cambodia, Maldova, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic. Already, clinics are in nine countries on four different continents. Organizers say it is a project that can save lives and potentially help thousands.

"If you have an infection, you need a prescription, or you just have something that needs constant care – they don't have that. And so now with our mobile clinic in place – they do have that security and that safety to know that someone's helping them," Mackenzie Rogers, BUILD's Chief Financial Officer, said.

The students who have worked on the project know that it can potentially help save lives and provide essential medical care in countries that need it most.

"Students are putting their hands on a project that will save a life. That's not an overstatement or an understatement. These containers, these Texas Aggie Medical Clinics, will save lives," Marshall Gray, BUILD's Chief Operating Officer, said.

Students who are working on the project are assisted in the conversion with volunteers with construction experience in the Bryan-College Station area. Those families who lost loved ones on that November day in 1999 say BUILD's impact will go far beyond the campus.

"BUILD has a lasting effect on other people," Neva Hand said. "Not just on the students who built it and the students who watch it burn. But on so many people around the world."

To learn more about BUILD and to donate to their efforts, click here.

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