2 Years Later, Trevor’s Legacy Foundation’s Recipient is a graduating Senior
Wed, 03/17/2021 - 10:24am admin
By Jenny Leibel
Have you ever wanted to know more about the recipient families and how, through Trevor’s Legacy Foundation, your donations make a difference?
A little bit about the Trevors Legacy Foundation: On August 29, 2015, while on his way to work, Trevor Torkelson‘s young life was tragically ended due to a drunk driver. Trevor was a positive in so many lives. He loved to make people smile. He was protective, funny, compassionate, a great friend, a loyal employee and a great loss to his family and community. Trevor couldn’t bear to see anyone hurting and when he did, he would try to bring comfort in any small way he could. A caring and protective son and brother, Trevor was always there to make his mom smile, share a basketball or baseball skill with his young brother, or even play dolls with his little sister. Trevor's huge heart and life touched so many, and we want nothing less in his death. We have created the Trevor’s Legacy Foundation to carry on his compassionate legacy and improve the quality of life for others.
Trevor Torkelson attended Kadoka Area High School and had a passion for children and sports; especially basketball and Michael Jordan. Trevor had a heart of gold. He was always a caretaker for his family and could not bear to see children hurting.
This is the motivation behind his Foundation; to help raise money with our team of volunteers for children in need due to serious illness or injury. It is the mission of the Foundation to provide assistance financially or otherwise to children in our surrounding communities, who are facing substantial expenses due to a serious illness or accident. Awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving is also another important aspect of the foundation. It is their hope that they can bring a realization to the choice of drinking and then getting behind the wheel.
2 Years ago the Trevor’s Legacy Foundations newest recipient was Kelsie Varner. Kelsie is a Senior this year and has plans to go to college to become a special education teacher. She attends Kadoka Area High School and lives with her parents, three sisters and younger brother in Kadoka, South Dakota. Kelsie began her life in Spearfish before moving to Kadoka in 2015.
When Kelsie was 12 years old, it was discovered that her aorta was growing and needed to be monitored. She underwent various tests and was initially diagnosed with the rare syndrome known as Marfans Syndrome. But with further genetic testing, it was discovered she was actually suffering from Loeys-Dietz Syndrome (LDS), which is primarily characterized by aortic aneurysms. Although scary, due to the fear of the unknown, there was a bit of good news. The family was told Loeys-Dietz is operable. Now all they could do is wait and wonder what it all meant. Then one day they got the call, Kelsie would need surgery within the next three months. It was explained that her heart was leaking and the opening was growing rapidly. Surgery to repair aortic aneurysms is essential for treatment because the aneurysms of LDS tend to rupture easily. It would need to be repaired soon. The family then started the uncertain journey to Omaha to talk with doctors and find out what their options were and a possible prognosis. They were given 3 choices to fix her heart: a mechanical valve, an animal valve or reconstructive surgery. After weighing the options, considering the pros and cons, her parents chose what they felt was the safest option. Kelsie would undergo reconstructive valve surgery and April 6th, 2018 was the big day.
The surgery was a success! After seven grueling hours in surgery and many nervous moments, the family was given the good news that Kelsie’s heart responded well to the repair. Due to her young age and uplifting spirit, Kelsie began to heal quickly. She would remain in the hospital an unbelievable four days and was sent home with positive expectations.
As for her prognosis, Kelsie needed to have Echocardiogram’s and EKG’s every six months to ensure the surgery was maintaining. She also had many restrictions such as; not lifting anything too heavy, not causing any kind of jarring to the heart and refraining from participating in any activities, which can cause stress to the heart. There is the chance, due to her young age, the surgery may not last more than 10-15 years and Kelsie will need to face this yet again. With all this on one’s shoulders, it would be easy to get overwhelmed or even depressed but Kelsie has maintained a bright, positive, outgoing attitude with no time for feeling sorry for herself. She enjoys school, reading, and her friends. Kelsie loves cheerleading, even though she is not to participate in any stunts, but we always have her in the front and center where she is smiling and doing jumps and kicks. She is always wearing a smile and is quickly one to make the best of any situation.
A little bit about the Marfan Syndrome: it is an inherited disorder that affects connective tissue — the fibers that support and anchor your organs and other structures in your body. Marfan syndrome most commonly affects the heart, eyes, blood vessels and skeleton. People with Marfan syndrome are usually tall and thin with disproportionately long arms, legs, fingers and toes. The damage caused by Marfan syndrome can be mild or severe. If your aorta — the large blood vessel that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body — is affected, the condition can become life-threatening. Treatment usually includes medications to keep your blood pressure low to reduce the strain on your aorta. Regular monitoring to check for damage progression is vital. Many people with Marfan syndrome eventually require preventive surgery to repair the aorta. Marfan syndrome is caused by a defect in the gene that enables your body to produce a protein that helps give connective tissue its elasticity and strength. Most people with Marfan syndrome inherit the abnormal gene from a parent who has the disorder. Each child of an affected parent has a 50-50 chance of inheriting the defective gene. In about 25 percent of the people who have Marfan syndrome, the abnormal gene doesn't come from either parent. In these cases, a new mutation develops spontaneously.
Kelsie and her family is just one of the families where your donations have made a life changing impact. Trevor’s Legacy Foundations recipient families, receive assistance to ensure their children get the treatments they need. Whether it is travel and lodging to and from treatments, therapy or medication, your donation is a savior during their uncertain journey. Each of TLF’s children requires ongoing therapy and treatments, specified to their individual needs. Because their needs are ongoing, so is our support. We could not support them without you! Your generosity also ensures that these families get to have a Christmas every child deserves. Directly due to your giving hearts, Trevor’s Legacy Foundation is able to give each family a monetary gift just before Christmas. These families have made it clear, to no uncertain terms that what the foundation does for them makes a real difference. But the Trevor’s Legacy Foundation could not do it without you, their compassionate supporters! Because of your belief in them, they are able to stand by these families through some of the scariest times in their lives. The TLF will continue our mission as long as you allow;“ because every child deserves a chance”!