Once-in-a-lifetime experience

Kyle Malinowski was one of the students selected to participate in the Vice President's motorcade.

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April 19, 2010

While hundreds of Peorians gathered in the streets to get a glimpse of Vice President Joe Biden’s motorcade when it passed through Peoria last month, a trio of Bradley students had more than a front-row view of the passing parade. They were part of it.

Seniors Marcus Belin and Jenny Van Kirk and junior Student Body President Kyle Malinowski drove cars in the motorcade and met the vice president before his address to The Center for Prevention of Abuse’s 16th annual Partners in Peace event at the Peoria Civic Center.

“It was really pretty amazing to see all of the organization and logistics that go into organizing a trip for one person,” Malinowski said. “And no matter what your political leaning is, it is absolutely incredible to meet someone who is basically a heartbeat away from being the most powerful man in the world.”

Malinowski said the vice president took time to meet briefly with each person in the motorcade who was not a member of his regular staff, allowing the three students a chance to shake hands with our country’s second in command and get their photograph taken with him.

“He came by and shook our hands and had a little discussion with each of us,” Malinowski said. “He asked me what it was like to be student body president and made a joke about how he’s used to dealing with presidents.

“I was really impressed because he was just a regular guy who was easy to talk to and genuinely interested in what you had to say.”

Belin took the opportunity to tell the vice president about his future careers plans -- to work as secretary for the Department of Education -- and also mentioned that he was from Chicago. Biden joked that he worked with a lot of people from Chicago, which prompted Belin to remark that that included President Barack Obama.

The three students were selected for the honor by Dr. Alan Galsky, Bradley’s vice president for student affairs, as recognition for the student leadership roles they have played on campus. Background checks were conducted on the students a few days before Biden arrived in Peoria.

“This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Van Kirk, a member of the women’s basketball team. “I think it really reminds you of all the opportunities Bradley provides for its students. I know there were limited opportunities for this, and I was so happy that I was able to be a part of it.”

The experience was made possible by a member of Biden’s staff, a Bradley graduate who was working as part of the advance team that traveled to Peoria to plan the vice president’s trip.

Malinowski said the three students drove two different cars and rotated time behind the wheel. The vehicles were part of the motorcade as it wound its way through Peoria.

“It was a little nerve-racking to be driving,” Malinowski said. “But it was just really cool to be part of the motorcade rather than watching it, and it was neat to see all the exits closed off and the police escorts.”

The Center for Prevention of Abuse’s Partners in Peace fundraiser was attended by 1,100 people. In 1994, Biden sponsored the Violence Against Women Act, which provided $1.6 billion to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women.

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