The people and staff of The Sunflower News at Wichita State University are in a time of great mourning.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of “The Great Mold Epidemic of 2007.”
A year ago, the brave souls who produced the twice-weekly publication endured an infestation of mold, and some staff members believed the influx of fungal spores had caused severe sickness with symptoms including leg cramps, hot flashes, scratchy throats, weakness, dizziness, and vomiting blood.
It was a dire situation, even though the apparent infection was only seen in staff members who worked at night. On the other hand, though, staff members who worked there every day of the week for up to nine hours each day had experienced none of the symptoms of which afflicted students had complained.
One staff member was so alarmed by the unfolding events that he ran to Wichita’s media for help before other avenues could have been explored, so The Wichita Eagle, KFDI news radio and KAKE Channel 10 all reported on the calamity beseeching the newspaper, which was in fact the result of a water leak in a carpeted office.
During KAKE’s broadcast of the horrible conditions at The Sunflower News, one person claiming to be ill from the mold spores said the following:
“I couldn’t breath. I mean, I could breath, but it was painful after a while. I could sense stuff going into my lungs that I knew shouldn’t be going in.”
Those were strong words from an incredibly brave man.
Now, those people who carried on through adversity to print one of the week’s two newspapers have moved on to green pastures of careers such as video game salesperson.
They are remembered fondly by the current Sunflower News staff, especially since the workman’s compensation risk control insurance officer came and gave the newspaper facilities a check-up.
The kind gentleman has put the Sunflower News into the high-risk category, which typically means a 25-percent increase in the insurance premium.
At least everyone suffering from fungal inhalation has been able to move on. They were victims, and it is not their faults.
Yes, it was finally deemed that the true cause of the respiratory distress was most likely from a combination of mold-removing cleaning chemicals and poor air circulation. And yes, even in the face of such suggestions, some people still swore it was the mold that was the true culprit. But, that’s OK. I still feel sympathy for them.
A candle-light vigil was discussed to remember and honor those that so valiantly battled an evil, carpet fungus.
But the memorial service never came to fruition because it was deemed to mostly likely be much too emotional for those in attendance.
And, it came down to spending the money on sunflower seeds or the candles. The simple fact of the matter is that sunflower seeds taste better when chewed on, so the candles were passed over for a tasty treat.
Had it actually taken place, it would have been a grand affair.
Speeches would have been delivered by the newspaper’s best orators, tears would have been shed by the emotional people of the group, and hugs would have been shared by all.
Above all, I am just thankful I was lucky enough to survive “The Great Mold Epidemic of 2007.”