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In Memory of Aaron Ciak

Fall/Winter 2014

Aaron Ciak may have graduated from Tiffin University in 2005, but his memory remains both at the institution and with those whose lives he touched.

“What I wouldn’t give to be as brave, strong, charismatic, handsome, well-respected and loved as he was. Aaron Ciak was a mammoth personality, the kind of guy you couldn’t help but be drawn to,” wrote Brian Rutkowski about his close friend and fellow TU alum.

After Ciak passed away in July 2012, his friend, Bobby Petras, and his mother, Kimberly Ciak, coordinated a memorial scholarship as an endowed fund that is supported by the Aaron Ciak Golf Scramble held annually on Homecoming Weekend.

“I hope people remember Aaron for the fun-loving, hardworking, loyal friend that I knew him as,” Petras said.

Ciak transferred to TU for its renowned Criminal Justice program. He also wanted to play football and soon earned a spot as running back for the Dragons.

“He worked hard on the football field and pushed the rest of his teammates to do the same,” Petras said. “He was a great leader in the locker room.” Health and fitness were so important to Ciak that he regularly contributed articles to a body-building website.

Several of his former teammates have made the annual trip to attend the golf scramble in his memory and gathered to retell the many stories of Ciak, both on and off the field.

Family and friends related how Ciak always did everything with his whole heart and ability. Rutkowski described the time Ciak met the challenge to eat as many carbs as he could in one sitting in the cafeteria. “I believe he put down four bowls of spaghetti, eight biscuits and half a dozen Stromboli’s,” noted Rutkowski. “He always did everything to the max.”

Ciak’s sister, Abagael, brothers Andrew and Aubrey and Aunt Karen added to the stories with descriptions of family time spent watching football or of their evenings talking around a bonfire.

Ciak graduated from TU with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement. According to his mother, he had always dreamed of being a police officer. She noted that his plans changed after the events of 9/11 and the death of Army Ranger/professional football player, Pat Tillman.

After he left TU, Ciak served as an Army Ranger for four years. His stint included deployment in Afghanistan. “Becoming a Ranger wasn’t a maybe, it was a must for Aaron,” his mother said. “I always thought, ‘What makes you not afraid, so daring and determined?’ about many of the things he did, but especially his decision to be a Ranger.”

During his time in the Army, he suffered a back injury due to jumping with the large packs. Ciak’s “never give up” attitude pushed him through back surgery and rehabilitation.

“Aaron fought for our freedom as an Army Ranger, and that is something he should always be remembered for,” said Petras.

This year marked the third annual golf scramble to raise money for the Aaron Ciak Memorial Scholarship. The endowed scholarship is awarded by a committee of Aaron’s family and friends to a recipient that demonstrates loyalty to TU.