It’s hard to believe that one year ago today, a tragic car accident claimed the lives of our friends and colleagues: Kortney Blythe Gordon, Jon Scharfenberger, and Kortney’s preborn daughter, Sophy. In a blink of an eye, the earthly lives of our friends were ended by a drunk driver.
In that one moment, the lives of thousands were changed forever. My life was changed forever.
I can’t describe to you the loss and panic that I felt when I received the call that Kortney and Sophy were killed and then again a few short days later when I got the call that Jon had passed away from his injuries. I remember going on autopilot – calling our Vice President, Tina, setting up an emergency staff meeting, booking a flight to Georgia to be with Jon in the ICU, asking my husband to call my family to get to Virginia to watch my boys, packing up my suitcase, and calling Jon and Kortney’s parents.
As the employer of both Kortney and Jon, the person who asked each of them to work for our mission, the responsibility I felt for their deaths was immense.
In the blink of an eye, everything that Kortney, Jon, and our entire team at SFLA had worked for so long was in jeopardy. I remember worrying if our team would be able to continue our mission after the accident, if we would have the finances to continue paying our employees and take care of the funeral costs for our friends, and how I would be able to continue to lead our team.
As I reflect upon this last year, with all of the challenges we faced, I am so grateful for the strength, wisdom, and courage God gave us to continue on with our mission despite our loss. I am grateful for the peace I have been able to feel in my life, and, even though at times it is difficult, I know that Kortney, Jon, and Sophy’s lives didn’t end in tragedy. Our God had a plan for each of them. They were His and He sent them here, for too short of a time by our standards, with a purpose.
And what I’ve come to understand is that tragedy isn’t living a life that is short; it’s living a life without faith and passion. That’s real tragedy, coming to the end of your life and not having a lived a life of passion and of faith in our Creator.
By this definition, Kortney, Jon, and Sophy’s deaths weren’t tragedies. As much as we grieve, we know with absolute certainty that they are with our Father in Heaven and, while on this earth, made an incredible impact, saving lives of preborn children and inspiring a whole generation to rise up to become abortion abolitionists.
Many of you have asked me over the past few months about our plans to honor our friends and former colleagues on a permanent basis.
I can tell you that we have thought long and hard about what would be the best and most appropriate way to honor Kortney, Jon and Sophy’s legacy and passion for protecting the preborn. We knew we wanted to do something to honor the memory of our friends, the way they wanted to be remembered as abortion abolitionists.
And finally, the answer came to us.
Two years ago, shortly after coming to work at SFLA, Kortney helped to start a program that would reward our student groups with prizes for their level of activity during the school year. The goal, of course, being that these prizes would provide incentive for student groups to be more active on their campuses saving babies and helping mothers and fathers. And since the prizes were monetary, also help them do projects or host some speakers that might not otherwise be possible without the necessary funds.
Internally, this program was known as our “audit prizes” since the prizes were awarded based on the audit of student groups we complete every year to make sure we know exactly where we stand in terms of group quality and activity. Kortney however was adamant that we couldn’t promote this program as an “audit prize” to our students because students hated the word “audit.” So she renamed it the “Preborn Rights Restoration Project.”
The program worked like a charm.
Well, actually, it worked too well. For example, we had so many groups participate during the 2011-2012 school year that after we completed the annual audit this June, we found that we owed over $11,500 to about 90 of our top student groups. I can tell you for certain that that amount was definitely not in the budget, but we made it work, somehow through the grace of God.
Today, I am so pleased to be the first to tell you that we are renaming Kortney’s “Preborn Rights Restoration Project” to be the Kortney, Jon, and Sophy Legacy Fund. Giving you, our friends and supporters, an opportunity to join with me and our team in honoring Kortney, Jon, and Sophy’s legacy everyday, never forgetting their sacrifice for our movement, by investing in the same student pro-life groups that Kortney and Jon believed in.
All donations given to the Kortney, Jon, and Sophy Legacy Fund will go directly to the student pro-life groups, who Kortney and Jon served everyday, some of which were even started by Kortney and Jon. I can think of no better way to honor the memory of our friends and do want they would want us to do – continue training, motivating, and equipping this generation, who we believe, will see the end of legal abortion in our lifetime.
Our team knows that we must raise at least $15,000 this year to give out over 150 cash prizes, with the amounts ranging from $175 for our most active groups to $25 for our new groups who are just getting starting.
While Kortney, Jon, and Sophy weren’t able to stick around long enough to see the end of legal abortion in our nation, it’s our charge now to make sure it happens and it happens with those student leaders who Kortney and Jon believed fully in.
Today, please pray for the families of Kortney, Jon, and Sophy, pray for our team at SFLA, and prayerfully consider making an investment in the Kortney, Jon, and Sophy Legacy Fund. Please use this special link which will track all donations to the fund: https://secure.campaignsolutions.com/studentsforlife/donation1/?initiativekey=1VPVDOXURK8H
Your gift to the Kortney, Jon, and Sophy Legacy Fund of $350, $175 or even $125 would be an amazing start, but if $350, $175, or even $125 is simply too much to ask right now, your heartfelt gift of $75 or $25 or whatever you can afford will help get our fund started right away this month and allow our team to give out Legacy gifts to our top Students for Life groups this fall, allowing them to follow in Kortney and Jon’s footsteps and change their campuses for Life, starting now.
Thank you for standing by Students for Life of America this year. For those of you new to the Students for Life family, here’s more information on Kortney, Jon and Sophy: /kortney-blythe-gordon/ and /2011/10/18/jon-scharfenberger-poc-coordinator-passes-away-from-oct-8-car-accident/.
Please prayerfully consider investing in the Kortney, Jon, Sophy Legacy Fund today and help us continue to train, motivate, and equip young pro-life students with the passion and skills they will need to be like Kortney and Jon, dedicating their lives to ending abortion in our lifetime: https://secure.campaignsolutions.com/studentsforlife/donation1/?initiativekey=1VPVDOXURK8H