Aaron Van Beek named 2022 Horizon Award recipient
Aaron Van Beek (’18) has been named the 2022 Horizon Award recipient at Dordt University. This award identifies alumni who are community-minded and entrepreneurial—those who are using their knowledge, gifts, and talents to participate in God's redemptive work in the world.
“I am humbled to have been nominated and even more so to be the recipient of this year’s Horizon Award,” says Van Beek.
Van Beek serves as board president and CEO for Midwest Honor Flight, an organization that flies “as many veterans from Northwest Iowa, the state of South Dakota, Northeast Nebraska, and Southwest Minnesota to Washington, D.C., as we can find—at no cost to the veteran.”
While studying elementary education at Dordt, Van Beek began the Midwest Honor Flight in 2017 after learning about the Honor Flight Network in Washington, D.C.
“As a junior in college, I never would have imagined that this organization would grow so much and have a lasting impact on the lives of so many veterans,” says Van Beek. “As of this summer, we have flown 900 veterans on over 10 flights. By this fall, we will have flown an additional 250 veterans over three additional flights. It’s truly an honor to be part of such a life-changing mission.”
Van Beek also serves as the volunteer director for South Dakota Veterans Cemetery Wreaths Across America and Sioux Center Wreaths Across America. He is a member of the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 199 of Sioux Center and of the VFW Auxiliary Unit 628 of Sioux Falls.
Looking back at his Dordt experience, Van Beek says that “Dordt is a community unlike any other.”
“Between classes, majors, the arts, and athletics, students are very supportive of each other,” he says. “I’ve made lifelong friends and keep in touch with many of them to this day.”
Plus, when Van Beek began Midwest Honor Flight as a student, he felt supported by his professors and classmates.
“In fact, some of those professors and friends have helped serve as volunteers, as guardians, and as a part of our flight crew over these past missions and have had a chance to see firsthand what the Midwest Honor Flight is.”
Despite having flown many veterans to Washington, D.C., Van Beek says there are over 600 veterans waiting for the opportunity to see and experience the memorials in Washington, D.C.
“The harsh reality is that we are up against the clock and not every veteran that applies to go will get a chance,” says Van Beek. “Wherever Defender Nation is, there are veterans who have served or are serving and deserve the chance to see and reflect at the memorials that have been dedicated to their service. I would challenge anyone who is interested in helping our American heroes take this trip of a lifetime to visit honorflight.org to find their local Honor Flight hub or visit midwesthonorflight.com to assist our local program here.”
About Dordt University
As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. For six years in a row, Dordt has been named number one in the nation for student engagement by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review. To learn more, visit dordt.edu.