The end has come for all the major “Firsts,” it is almost as if the race is over, but the flagman has not flown the checker flag. There will be no burnout, no victory lap and no celebration in victory lane. Most races have a lap or mileage count, a point in which you know there will be an end. Our race has no end, it will continue for as long as there is breath in our bodies, as long as we are still here on this earth taking care of each other, and carrying on Lindsay’s legacy through the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation.
As you go through life and you reach the “older” years sometimes you begin to lose faith in people, you wonder “Are there any more good people left?” I can assure you there are. It would be almost impossible to list all the people, organizations, and groups that have helped us through this first year, but there is one I would like to share with you today.
Wilmington Christian Academy
Jarrett and Lindsay both started at WCA in Pre-K, what seems to be yesterday, and they were both life time students. The day of Lindsay’s accident there were administration personal, principles, teachers, coaches and the list goes on for the people that were at the hospital supporting us. They were there from day one and are still standing by our sides today. Shortly after Lindsay passed away, we as a family wanted to do something to help the cheer squad and the art department, two things Lindsay dearly loved. So, we went to the school, met with the administration and started the “Lindsay M. Benton Cheer and Art Fund.” The school welcomed this idea with open arms and were more than glad to help us get it started and maintain it for us.
Lindsay still had some art work at the school, a few paintings and drawings. The school contacted us and invited us to attend an Art Dedication. Lindsay’s senior class raised money to have one of the art pieces frame and a volleyball team from a different high school did the same. We were overwhelmed with emotion when they uncovered the pieces. They are hanging today in mine and her mother’s home.
As you should know by now Lindsay was a cheerleader, she loved her coach and her squad. They were a family, and like every family they would have their quarrels, but in the end, they were sisters of the pom-pom and nothing could tear them apart. We talked to the school about placing a banner in the gym to remember Lindsay and to remind everyone about the Lindsay M Benton Cheer and Art fund. Well, in WCA fashion they went above and beyond. There is now a large banner hanging in the gym, and it will remain there, for as long as the rope will hold it. In the lobby, a beautiful plaque is hanging in line with all the hall of fame athletes that attended WCA. When we went to see these wonderful tributes, my heart swelled with pride and my eyes filled with tears.
She so dearly love her squad, and they loved her.
After Lindsay passed away the cheer team continued, so precisely, to carry Lindsay everywhere they went. All of the athletes paid tribute to her memory and legacy no matter the field, mat, or gym floor they were competing on.
During the month of February, at the last home basketball game, WCA pays tribute to their senior athletes. On this night, they bring the athletes and their parents out on the gym floor to honor them for their hard work and sacrifices both during the season and in the classroom. It was very hard to be there that night, but also such an honor to stand up for Lindsay as she was recognized and remembered. What an amazing tribute to our daughter and Patriot Cheerleader.
Spirit Week is a tradition at WCA and takes place the entire week before the big homecoming game. It is a week of different theme’s where the students dress in costume. A week of games, contest, skits and this year, a day to remember. In the picture below the senior class spelled out Lindsay’s initials on the gym floor to let her know they had not forgotten her and she was still apart of the class of 2017.
April is Donate Life month and as always WCA was there for support. They set up tables and manned them on Blue and Green Day, the 21st. They gave out green Donate Life bracelets and brochures and also sold Lindsay M. Benton Foundation pins to bring awareness to donor registration and help raise money for the foundation. I could never say enough about the amazing students that attend this school. Their love and support has helped carried us through this very tough year.
Lindsay M. Benton Cheer Scholarship
After meeting with the outstanding administration staff at WCA we were able to work out the criteria for this scholarship. We, as a family, wanted to help a cheerleader that had the same dream as Lindsay, perusing a career in the medical field. The scholarship was awarded to Heather Reynolds. Heather is now entered in the East Carolina University School of Nursing. We could not be happier or prouder that Heather received the first Lindsay M. Benton Cheer Scholarship.
The day I had been dreading the most, graduation. Lindsay was counting down the days all through the summer. She was so looking forward to walking across that stage and being a WCA graduate. We were happy for all the other graduates, but our hearts were so heavy because Lindsay was not there. The class carried white roses in her memory and there was a dozen red roses sitting in the chair where Lindsay would be sitting in.
It is a tradition to have each senior decorate a table with pictures and past accomplishments for all to come see after the graduation ceremony. The school contacted Kellie and asked her if we would like to have a table in Lindsay’s honor. After we discussed it we decided to take everything we wanted on the table and let the school decorate the table for us, because we just could not do it. We trusted them to do her proud and they did. Jarrett brought the red roses over from Lindsay’s chair and placed them on the table to finish it off. Jarrett, what an wonderful and loving brother. He attended the graduation and the reception to represent Lindsay and our family. We could not picked a better person to be there for her. Jarrett and Heather had a picture made together that night and it brought tears to my eyes. My son and my daughter’s best friend arm in arm at Lindsay’s table.
The Administration, Staff and Teachers
What wonderful leaders, mentors and witnesses they all have been to both Jarrett and Lindsay, along with all the students that came before and the ones yet to come. Over seventeen years ago I struggled with the idea of starting Jarrett at WCA. There was the cost involved, the daily commute and the fact that I went to public school and I turned out okay. After all these years, the sacrifices and the miles driven I am so proud to say our children went to Wilmington Christian Academy. Everyone at WCA has made a devastating time somewhat bearable by working with us and supporting us during the worst time of our lives. We look forward to continuing to work with the staff on both the Lindsay M. Benton Cheer Fund and the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation. Words in a blog can never convey the respect and admiration my family has for each and every person at the school. I know in my heart they will continue to lead the students at WCA in a way that they will become the leaders of our tomorrow.
Thank you Coach
Julie Rickard, I do not believe I could ever come up with the right words to convey the gratitude we have for you. From the first year Lindsay made the cheer squad to the many trips you made to be by our sides, you have been, in someway, a part of our family. Along with your own daughters you take in ten to twelve new daughters every year. You take on their problems, their complaints, their love life, their heartbreak and you take on their teenage drama and you do it with a smile and a loving heart, most of the time. You not only coach them, you teach them to be good human beings in this world where that is becoming a rarity. You teach them cheers and stunts to a champion standard, but you also teach them to be kind, loving, and smile at their mistakes. Every year you base your season on scripture and lean on that when times are trying as well as victorious. You were there for Lindsay, and us, everyday we were at the hospital. You brought young ladies with you to try and lift our spirits and pray for Lindsay. You were our liaison for the cheer squad, you told them what needed to be said and held them as they cried tears of pain for their friend. You brought a little ray of sunshine every time you walked down that long hallway. You were there for any request, or favor, no matter the size. You and the squad stood tall and proud as you took on what had to be the hardest season of your lives. You made sure Lindsay was not forgotten, and that she was at every game, every pep rally and every competition. For all of this you asked for nothing in return. Your sacrifice goes beyond explanation and your love for our daughters beyond measure, that is what makes you a champion among champions.
And Lastly the Class of 2017
Below is something I wrote for Mr. Tucker to read at the graduation ceremony. Knowing, for reason too dear to our hearts, that we could not attend. I did not want them to know they were not appreciated for all they had done for our family. These young people are an amazing group and they, along with their parents, will forever be in our hearts and prayers. The last line below contains the words “My Dude”, I had to put that it the writing. It is one of those thousand things, a precious memory I have of Lindsay. I can remember her saying that to me when she would ask to go somewhere or when she was talking to her friends, “Thanks My Dude.”
To The Wilmington Christian Academy Class of 2017. Thank you and congratulations from the Benton and Ekstrom family.
Thank you to the staff and faculty, but most importantly thank you, the graduating class of 2017. Thank you for all your love and support throughout the past nine months. Your compassion, thoughtfulness and giving has touched our hearts more than you will ever know. You have kept Lindsay in your hearts and continued to keep her legacy alive. For that we are forever thankful.
Thank you for being who you are. Thirty-one unique individuals each with a different goal, ambition and dream. Never let that dream die. Pursue it, live it, never give up on it. As you all may know Lindsay had a dream, a dream to be a trauma surgeon and save lives. That dream did not end when Lindsay passed away. She, as always, was planning ahead. Lindsay was a registered donor and she did save lives. She is continuing to save lives through the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation and the many charities it supports.
Congratulations on completing this part of your life’s journey. You should be very proud of yourselves for the accomplishment you’ve made. Don’t let it stop here. Keep moving forward, keep making a difference and keep the fire for your passions alive. Be proud of your parents and who they are, no matter your family situation. Be proud to be a Patriot and what that represents, the hard work, the challenges, the victories, the losses and the Godly foundation on which this school was built.
Thank you again for all your love and kindness. As you receive a white rose tonight know that it is to remember Lindsay and to say thank you from our entire family. It is a small way to show how special each and every one of you are to us.
We love you all and lastly…………fly high my dudes.
From the deepest part of my heart and soul thank you Wilmington Christian Academy for all your love and support. I look forward to our continued relationship as we work together bringing awareness to Organ Donation and Registration, to help the cheer squad and art department grow, and helping a cheerleader fulfill their dream of being in the medical field through the fund and foundation named for our a forever Patriot, Lindsay M. Benton.