On June 29, 2014, a tragic car accident claimed the life of Philip Lutzenkirchen, former tight end for the Auburn Tigers, and left the Auburn community devastated.
Almost a year and a half later, Philip’s legacy can be seen all around campus. On hats, stickers, bracelets and computers, the number 43 serves as a frequent reminder to everyone. Sara Bedsole decided to bring Lutzenkirchen’s legacy to the forefront this year.
When Bedsole was chosen to be a top 5 candidate for Miss Homecoming, she immediately knew her platform would be the Lutzie 43 Foundation.
“I wanted to support the Lutzie 43 foundation because I wanted the chance to remember and honor Philip,” says Bedsole, “as well as the chance to truly encourage my peers to think about making wise decisions.”
The Lutzie 43 Foundation was started by Lutzenkirchen’s parents after the tragedy and aims to encourage young students and athletes to think about the decisions they are making on a daily basis.
For Bedsole, Lutzenkirchen was a symbol of what it meant to really live. “He was a guy who seemed to be larger than life,” she recalls, “and his death was a reminder that our time on earth is only a vapor in the wind.”
Bedsole was surrounded by the support and encouragement of her peers as she campaigned throughout the week. One Auburn student, in particular, saw the week as an opportunity to spread his friend’s legacy to the community.
“Phil was an incredible friend. The type of friend that you wish you had three or four of, but people like him are hard to come by,” said Tanner Case. “I saw this week as a chance to spread Phil’s legacy to the people who haven’t heard it, and an opportunity to bring more awareness to the foundation.”
Throughout the week, student’s could sign their name on a large sign with the number 43 boldly painted across it. Students were not only encouraged to sign their name, but to give thought to what kind of legacy they want to leave here at Auburn.
“I hope people look at this foundation and actually take time to think about how they are living their life as an individual,” Case said. “I hope they not only think about their daily decisions but also think about the legacy they are leaving here at Auburn and within their community.”
Bedsole’s campaign focused heavily on raising money and awareness for the foundation. Going into the week, she set a goal to raise $4,300, but that goal was quickly surpassed. By the end of her five-day campaign, over $18,000 was raised for the Lutzie 43 Foundation.
The money will go toward a prom for student’s with special needs at Lutzenkirchen’s high school and help further the foundation’s outreach.
Both Bedsole and Case took invaluable lessons away from the week.
“I learned that the Auburn family is just that, a family,” said Bedsole, “I've always known it, but the homecoming week furthered that idea exponentially.”
Case was also blown away by the outpouring of support and donations to the Lutzie 43 Foundation. “I think the week was a perfect example of what you can accomplish when you’re passionate about something,” he said. “We just wanted to be voices and hands for the foundation and most importantly make Phil proud.”
Photos: Tanner Case // www.scout.com
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