An unspeakable tragedy becomes hope for a new generation
Alumni Establish a $50,000 Endowment in Honor of Classmate Dan Allman
When Mehrdad Hairani, DDS, ’18, recalls his journey to becoming a dentist, he will always relate it to memories of his classmate and friend, Dan Allman, DDS, ’18. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
That’s why Hairani established the Daniel Alexander Allman Memorial Scholarship to honor Allman, who died tragically in September 2020 at the age of 29 from a fall while camping in northern Minnesota. “He died in a place he loved,” his obituary read, “looking forward to spending time in the woods with buddies.”
“I met Dan the first week of dental school,” said Hairani. He was jovial, friendly and unassuming. He made everybody feel comfortable and quickly had a lot of friends.”
Allman’s sudden death hit everyone at the dental school hard. “Even after I’d flown back to Minnesota for the funeral, I still couldn’t believe Dan had died,” said Hairani, who lives and practices in Portland, OR. That’s when Hairani’s wife, Nazila, suggested they establish a scholarship as a way of remembering Allman.
With a goal of raising $50,000 for the endowed scholarship, Hairani began spreading the word to his former classmates and other School of Dentistry alumni and asked them to do the same. In the months to follow, they quickly raised close to $30,000, then hit a plateau.
“I had pretty much given up on raising any more money and was about to call the School to see if we could move forward nonetheless with a smaller endowment,” remembered Hairani. “That’s when our classmate Ben Trapp had a great idea. I give him all the credit for us reaching our goal.”
Trapp’s great idea was a 24-hour fundraising walk. Classmates and others who knew and treasured Allman were invited to pledge their financial support for each mile Trapp walked.
Trapp began walking on Friday, August 13, 2021. At noon the following day friends, family, patients and community members came together at Utepils Brewing in Minneapolis to push fundraising over the top, celebrate reaching the $50,000 goal and once again honor Allman.
With the endowment goal attained, Hairani helped establish the criteria for scholarship recipients: they must be strong academically and involved in the community. “One of the things Dan really enjoyed was volunteering at Hope Dental Clinic in St. Paul, where people in need can receive free dental care,” said Hairani. “So the committee will look for students who excel in class and are committed to serving others.”
For Hairani and his classmates, the endowment is the perfect way to not only encourage future generations of successful students, but to keep alive the memory of their friend. “We all continue to live our lives, but it’s important to remember the people we’ve loved and cherished along the way,” said Hairani. “Dan’s life had a very positive impact on everyone around him. The scholarship continues that impact.”
The Daniel Alexander Allman Memorial Scholarship was awarded for the first time in the 2022-2023 academic year to a 4th-year dental student. If you would like to make a gift to the Allman scholarship, please visit give.umn.edu. If you are interested in learning more about endowed or memorial scholarships, please contact Emily Best at 612-625-6811 or [email protected].