This picture of Andy K. was taken in 2014, on this date, two years ago. I’ve told the story leading up to this picture several times now, but it is worth retelling for many reasons.
A bunch of high school freshman friends decided they were going to go trick-r-treating at the very last minute at a Halloween party we were hosting. So they needed something to carry, we had collected several Halloween bags over the years and stored in the basement. So everyone went down to the basement and I was handing out bags. Andy was the last one and the only one I had left was this “girly” “Hello Kitty” bag, so I just started laughing and said to him, something like, “you’re not going to want this one, are you?” and he replied something like, “sure, why not? I’ll use it!” and he did. I was really impressed by his confidence, he truly didn’t mind and was going to have fun with it! So I had to ask him if he would let me take his picture with it, and it was no problem for him! He made an incredible impression on me at that very moment.
The prior summer, in 2014, Andy K., Lauren D. and Jack L. spent a lot of time together at their brother’s baseball games and had become good friends. They also went to homecoming together as a group.
The next summer, 2015, Lauren D. and some friends decided to go to YoungLife Camp; Andy K. went to a different high school, but shortly before the trip, they found out they were all going to be at Camp together and were pretty excited about it. They had a great experience at camp with lots of stories to tell.
KEEPING IN TOUCH
They continued to stay in touch and would do things together in groups. At this point in time, not everyone was driving so I drove Lauren D. and Claire S. over to Andy’s to hang out. Of course I got the call asking “Can we stay later?” And I was fine with that, then I got the call, “how soon can you get over here? Claire needs to be home ASAP!” That’s just how things go when you have a teenager. So I picked them up and they talked about how much fun they had that night. It just got to be later than Claire’s parents expected so she needed to get home.
A COUPLE WEEKS LATER
I still remember getting the call from my friend Krista, I was sitting on the couch with Nick watching TV, she wanted to let me know first so that I could tell Lauren before she found out on social media, since Lauren and Andy were good friends: Andy was in a car accident on the way to his job and he didn’t make it. I was in shock, horrified and didn’t know how to tell Lauren; it was painful. From this day forward EVERYTHING changed on December 2, 2015.
The wake and funeral were the most emotional experiences I ever had. There was an unbelievable number of people attending, thousands in my estimation. And I heard so many stories, very similar to my Halloween story of Andy’s personality, from so many people of all ages. Andy K. was the kid who welcomed the shy kid at school, smiled at people, took time patiently with young kids, made people smile, looked out for others, stood up for the “underdog”, and was strong for others, provided emotional support to others in times of need. And he was only in high school, but yet affected so many positively.
Andy’s Dad told the story of Andy driving his Dad to the airport for a trip and as his Dad started to go through the gates, Andy said, “Hey Dad, Make It Count!” and smiled. Sadly, this was the last time they saw one another. The “Make It Count” conversation was an ongoing conversation Andy K. and his Dad had many times over the years, but in reverse, when his Dad coaching Andy would tell him in sports to “Make It Count!” Andy’s Dad asked that everyone remember Andy and “Making It Count” going forward.
I will forever be grateful that Andy K. was a part of Lauren’s life, he made her life better on many occasions and I will always think of Andy and his family whenever I hear or use the words “Make It Count”
So often in our lives an ordinary day, an ordinary experience, will not seem like much at the time, but does in hindsight. The impact one person can have on so many was evident to me during this experience, it truly changed my perspective in life and is something that I will always be very passionate about: Making It Count!