A junior in college, Sarah decided to spend spring break on a community service tour....A project called "Pay It Forward". She and 41 other students arrived Tuesday in Pensacola...the fifth stop on the tour. The group traveled there to work at a local church.
But the stop there turned tragic Tuesday night when Sarah went jogging with two other students in the Ensley community and was killed when she was hit by a Jeep sport utility vehicle.
"She obviously had a passion for people and service," said Najla Amundson, spokeswoman at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. "Otherwise she wouldn't have been spending her spring break on a project like this."
A native of Minot, N.D., Sarah Martinsen was in Florida as part of a service trip involving the NDSU chapter of Students Today Leaders Forever. The group, which included 40 members from NDSU and two from Minnesota State University Moorhead, was in Pensacola, Fla., a stop on a six-city “Pay It Forward Tour.” During the tours, students participate in service and leadership activities, learn about social issues, build relationships and make a commitment to continued action when they return home.
Earlier during the day of the accident, the students were in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where Martinsen worked with children with learning disabilities, cleaned the facility and participated in a dance party. A friend said Martinsen had called the experience the best day of her life.
“Sarah was such a great role model,” said Megan Piper, a first-year student majoring in family and consumer sciences education from Casselton, who met Martinsen on the trip. “I want to live my life the way she lived hers. She inspired me from the very first time I spoke to her to the last time I saw her.
In Martinsen’s honor, the group cleaned a church in Pensacola the morning after her death. The group also decided to continue on to New Orleans, the last stop of the tour, where they were scheduled to meet six other Pay It Forward Tour buses to participate in a joint service project and celebration.
Martinsen was membership chair of the Phi Eta Sigma national honor society and a member of NDSU Sociology Club. Read more about her here. Please read her obituary here.
“Our heart goes out to family and friends of Sarah Martinsen, she was a model student and clearly a person who cared about others as evidenced by her participation in this program. Our university has suffered a great loss,” said NDSU university spokeswoman, Najla Amundson.
"They (the other student on the tour) asked themselves 'What would Sarah want?' " said Greg Tehven, co-founder of Students Today Leaders Forever. "They answered that she should would want them to continue serving, so they did their project." The students worked at Circle Baptist Church on New Warrington Road between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. They sealed cracks near windows, cleaned windows, picked up trash and limbs and pulled weeds. Sarah would have been proud of their accomplishments.
My sympathies go out to all of Sarah's family and friends.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all.