A trip to Vietnam with her dad to seek direction for a career ended up being so much more for rising Ohio State freshman, field hockey athlete Vic Kutz

Victoria Kutz, a recent Lower Dauphin High School graduate, lives worlds apart from a young Vietnamese girl named Binh.


But, Binh, unknowingly, may have impacted Vic’s future.


The rising Ohio-State freshman is playing Division I field hockey this Fall. She said she chose to go to Vietnam her junior year in high school for a few reasons. One being, she’s trying to figure out her career path.


Vic and her dad, Dr. Eric Kutz, joined Elizabethtown-based non-profit, Brittany’s Hope at the end of 2022 and beginning of 2023. They traveled halfway around the world to Vietnam a few days after Christmas, where they spent nearly two weeks serving and empowering communities that protect orphaned and at-risk children with special needs, which is one of the pillars of Brittany’s Hope.


“I might do something with special education, or sports broadcasting or journalism,” Vic said. “Those are my two things. The kids at the orphanages were mostly kids with special needs or disabilities. They are treated much differently there than they are here. My sister, Maggie, has Down syndrome. That’s near and dear to my heart. I kind of wanted to go on that trip to see if I would want to go into a profession like that, especially around the world to help those kids have a voice.”


Vic Kutz gets a kiss on the cheek from Binh. (Photo: Vic Kutz)



The future college Buckeye didn’t hesitate to exchange her circumstances of limitless opportunity to perform an act of humanitarianism in the Asian country.


“I always think I’ve been good at realizing that not everyone gets to play Division I field hockey or that everyone gets to have a college education,” Vic said. “Going on this trip made me realize I did put in a lot of hard work, but there’s still a lot of people out there who won’t be able to experience what I’ve experienced.”


One of the first stops on the trip was being deployed to serve at a vocational training program for young adults with disabilities living in extreme poverty. The students were trained to work within the community doing things from screen printing to making incense. Binh was one of the students they met, who was associated with the program.


Binh’s warm smile and infectious personality resonated with Vic. She was drawn to her immediately, and perhaps because she saw some of her sister, Maggie, in Binh.


“I was like, ‘oh my gosh, look at that girl,’” she said. “She looks so happy. She was wearing a hat. She taught us how to make incense. She would clap and sing for us. If we were doing it wrong, she would crack up laughing. She definitely was one of the [students] that I don’t think we’ll ever forget. She was dancing one night; she was almost passing out because she was having so much fun.”


Binh, a young teen, however, fell victim to a patterned life, where children with special needs in Vietnam are often considered “bad luck.” Culturally, in Vietnam, having a disability is seen as “the consequences of the sins of a parent or ancestor.”


“They often aren’t accepted and that was the situation,” Eric said. “I don’t recall how [Binh] was identified and ended up at this particular place. Most of the students we interacted with and met were abandoned for some reason or left for some reason. Until you’re faced with it, it’s kind of hard to process that.”


The father-daughter duo was inspired to go on the trip because of Maggie Kutz. Maggie, Eric’s daughter and Vic’s sister, has Down syndrome. The thought of supporting abandoned children who have special needs was a once-in-a-lifetime call that they felt also showed their unconditional love to Maggie.


“Just every day, I was amazed at the things she was doing,” Eric said about his youngest daughter Vic. “And, to be thrown into a situation like that and just kind of do what you do as it comes natural; these places that we visited – the kids were always waiting for us to get there. Within five minutes of us arriving, there was somebody holding your hand. It was amazing.”


The executive director of Brittany’s Hope said she also was impressed with Vic, especially her sincerity and maturity.


“Vic was such a natural,” Mai-Lynn Abel Sahd told FAN. “The students just gravitated toward her. Vic would be covered by the end of the day with stickers. Whenever I turned around – Vic was the youngest, the only high school student out of all the college students – she was always giving her time. Even when there wasn’t an audience watching, Vic would go off and do very intentional things with the kids. I think she’s very gifted with children.”


Despite the 17-hour trip and 12-hour time difference, they said they were energized by all the adventures that allowed them insight into the beautiful, previously war-torn country. Packed in their suitcases were gifts; toys, supplies for the orphanages, medical supplies, walkers, and assisted devices.


The Kutz duo were embedded with occupational and physical therapists. Eric is an orthopedic surgeon.


“We got to see a number of places around the country,” Eric said. “The highlight was the time we spent with the kids. We did do some sightseeing at the end of the trip. We were there for almost two weeks. The last few days, they wanted to give us a little reward for the work that we did.”


They went to Ha Long Bay, where they kayaked, and road on a boat around an island that had “crazy caves” in them.


“If we had our choice, we would have rather gone to see another orphanage to spend more time with the kids,” Eric said. “It was great what we did, but we really got a lot from our time we spent with the kids.”


Eric gave some of them medical attention. He said he evaluated kids who had cerebral palsy and that he was priding himself on helping them to try to do things that would help the children to function better.


Vic taught English and played soccer.


“They don’t have sports teams like we do,” she said. “There isn’t a program there that looks like Lower Dauphin field hockey. It just made me a lot more grateful for what I have from all the work that the coaches put in and the teachers put in. There are kids over there who literally do not leave their rooms, kids with cerebral palsy.


“We played soccer one day, which I’m really bad at soccer. That was the first time these kids have been in a tournament.”

Vic Kutz is under pressure by Conestoga during the PIAA Class 3A high school field hockey tournament. (Photo: Bob Benscoter)


Vic said when she returned home, she reflected on her attitude. She said she found herself adjusting it when she would think, “uhhh, I have to play [field hockey] at [Spooky] Nook in a tournament this weekend.”


“I realized I didn’t want to take it for granted,” she said. “The kids over there were sweating so hard. They were laughing. And, they would go and go and go. I was thinking, ‘how do they keep going?’ And, it was like, this is all they have. All I could think about when I got home is, we have it good. I’m more grateful now than I’ve ever been. When you go on a trip and have an experience like that, there are so many things that really don’t matter.”


The memories made between the father-daughter duo – from trying Korean BBQ to traveling by moped (which Vic said she didn’t think her dad could handle) – will be unforgettable.


“By the end of the trip, we were looking for a good piece of pizza, something from home,” Eric said. “Our food experience was always an adventure every night. Traffic rules…there are none. Between the car traffic and most of the people using mopeds, and so, ya know, it’s survival of the fittest. Traffic lights and signs are suggestions…The first time we saw the traffic, we were like, what’s going on here.”


“We’d get back to the hotel and we’d be cracking up at the most random things,” Vic said. “We went to bed some nights at 7:30 p.m. and we’d be like, well, good night.”


Not only did they fly across the Pacific ocean to see the kids, but they also took five in-country flights along the coast of Vietnam.


“I personally feel that the [Vietnamese] are a warm group,” Vic said. “The people who run those orphanages are passionate about it. They were very welcoming and very grateful that we were there.”


They both said they’d consider going on another trip. Whether Vic figures out her future occupation based upon this trip or not, it’s left an impact on her.


“Going there, showing love to these kids, that part is pretty easy,” Eric said.


Photos: Vietnam, submitted by Vic Kutz; sports action, Bob Benscoter

Share the Post:

Related Posts