Thank a Spark Plug…

Thank a Spark Plug…

You walk up to the front doors of any hospital, and as you are walking you notice the grand, sometimes intimidating, size of the building. The landscape that may take your breath away with the beauty of blooming plant life. There could possibility be memorials placed around the entrance remembering those that gave their lives to this institution. You see the architecture and design that forms a place of healing, recovery and remorsefully, death. Once inside, the visual dance continues, with photographs depicting the history of this brick and mortar building we all look to for healing. Within the many walls of this hospital there are hundreds, maybe thousands of personnel that work everyday to bring hope to patients and their families. Their job and purpose is to bring healing to the sick and injured. The entire employed population of this hospital has to work together to reach one common goal, the health and welfare of every single person under its care. No matter how sick, no matter how injured, their job is to use all their combined knowledge, talent and heart to medically, or mentally heal that patient. It takes everyone, from the CEO, the Chief of Staff, the managers all the way to the very talented person that cleans the rooms and puts a smile on your face because they are praying for your family. Being a man I sometimes, well most of the time, compare one thing to another to bring a better perspective to what I am trying to describe. That being said lets compare a hospital to a brand new, off the showroom floor car. WOW, there it is, an amazing visual stimulation. Look at the paint, the design, the body lines. The way it glimmers in the sun, the way the seats feel when you slide down in them. The smell, oh the smell of a brand new car. All the latest technology, all the latest instrumentation. This new vehicle will talk to you and give you directions, it will use programs to possible save your life. You sit in this new fort of solitude and you feel safe, you feel secure, but wait you are not going anywhere. I almost forgot the most important part, the engine, the power plant, the one thing that has to work together with all the other components to start moving forward. You pop the hood and there it is, a roaring power plant that will take you anywhere you want to go. The internal combustible engine has so many moving parts, so many parts that have to work in unison to complete even one revolution. The basis of this internal combustible engine is just that, combustion. An explosion that is cause by a mixture of fuel, air and a single spark. Without this spark the engine will not run.

In my personal opinion, the spark plugs of a hospital are the nurses. Without them there would have no spark to initiate the explosion to help all the other parts work in unison. They are the spark that keeps the patients and the families going. These women and men I consider heroes. When Lindsay was in the hospital it was her nurses that got us through that week. Please do not misunderstand, I can not say enough about her doctors. I am a man, yet I am not afraid to say, I love each one of them. Her doctors were, and will always be, in my thoughts and prayers. There has not been a day since Lindsay arrived at the hospital that I do not think of her doctors. Each of them with such compassion cared for Lindsay like she was their only patient. Each of these doctors were, and still are, great men of medicine, integrity, and family. But it was the nurses that were with Lindsay and my family twenty-four hours a day. I know that is their job, to be with and care for their patients, but I always asked them “How do you do it, how do you separate the medical from the emotional, how do you work the long hours and come back with a smile on your face. How do you deal with death and sorrow on a daily basis and keep coming back? How do you deal with the insurmountable stress and frustration?” Their answers were all the same, “It is our job, and we love the people we are caring for.” These nurses work incredibly long hours, sacrificing time away from their own families, their own friends and their own lives to be there for others. They hear all the stories as if they have never heard them before. They listen to all the complaints from love ones and in a calm demeanor, smile and assure the family they are doing all that can be done. Nurses, in my opinion, are the closest things there is to a doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, spiritual adviser, logistical genius, and of course a spark plug. All nurses deserve and have earned the right to be treated with respect by all, no matter what letters follow their name. Without these nurses the engine does not work, the power plant does not move the hospital forward, the patients care could be left stranded on the side of the road. When Lindsay was admitted to the STICU at New Hanover Regional Medical Center she was under the care of five nurses at any given time throughout the day and night. Five nurses that took the time to answer all the questions, no matter how hard the answers were to hear. They were truthful, they were honest and they were a God send. You know when you meet someone and you feel a connection, a feeling of trust, a feeling of almost family, this is what we felt when we meet two of Lindsay’s nurses. These two wonderful women where instantly apart of our family, and I feel still are today. Deani and Elizabeth were our spark plugs, they keep us going, they keep our hearts going, they keep our Lindsay going. They stayed after their shift was over to spend time with us, to assure us and to make sure we were okay for the night. They came on their days off to just say hello and check on Lindsay. They were there when the time drew near for us to make the most devastating decision a parent will ever have to make. Elizabeth was with us on the day Lindsay passed away and answered the most difficult questions of all. My major concern was whether or not Lindsay would feel any pain or discomfort. Elizabeth looked at me and with tears in her eyes and said “It is my job to make sure none of that happens, I will take care of her.” On August 28th, 2016 there were many doctors and nurses with us, but knowing Elizabeth was there by our side and Deani was praying for us was a comfort. I can not say enough about what is under the hood at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, and I will never stop thanking the spark plugs that keep it running. God bless all that are in the medical field for what they do, what they endure and the sacrifices they make. The next time you sit down in the drivers seat of your car and turn the key or walk through the doors of a hospital remember to thank a spark plug.

Please take a moment and listen to Elizabeth Mills, BSN RN CCRN and her fellow nurses, Kati Kleber, BSN RN CCRN and Melissa Stafford, BSN RN CCRN SCRN on their Podcast at My personal favorite Podcast is season 1 episode 10. In this episode, near the end, you will hear in Elizabeth’s own words how Lindsay’s passing personally affected her. Elizabeth states in another podcast that “The most rewarding part of being a nurse is being present in people lives.” and also “It takes strength to develop stability.” Very profound words from an amazing nurse.



This is week thirty four of me posting my blogs. I never realized it would reach so many people. Never in a million years would I ever think my words would be read in over thirty countries by thousands of people. I can only hope it has brought some sort of healing to another grieving parent, and some understanding to those looking in from the outside.

Today I am going to reintroduce myself, Lindsay and my family. I want to give you an update on what the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation has accomplished in the past year and let you know where we are heading this year.

For those of you who do not know me my name is Brad Benton, I am Jarrett and Lindsay Benton’s father. I am writing this blog for two reasons, one, it is very therapeutic for me and two, I’d like to share what I have learned as a grieving father.

As many of you know Lindsay was in a car accident on August 21, 2016, it was the Sunday before her first day of class for her senior year. After an emergency surgery, and a week in the STICU at NHRMC Lindsay passed away the following Sunday, August 28, 2016. She was 17 years old.

Lindsay, was a lifetime student at Wilmington Christian Academy and was to be co-captain of WCA cheerleaders, a sport she loved. Lindsay had a dream to be a doctor, a saver of lives and a leader in the medical field. She always knew she had a calling in this field and it changed from one concentration to another until she attended the National Youth Leadership Forum for Medicine at Chapel Hill the summer of 2016. During the nine days she spent at UNC she decided she wanted to be a Trauma Surgeon. My favorite message from her during that week was “Dad, I am having the time of my life.”

She wanted to help people; she wanted to use her passion to be the best surgeon she could possibly be, she wanted to mend broken lives. Well, in her passing, her dreams were fulfilled, as she was an organ donor and through organ donation she mended and saved lives.  Little did we know how many lives Lindsay touched during her time here on this earth. We have heard story after story of her “therapy” sessions, her kindness to strangers and her ability to bring reason to difficult situations. To quote one of her tweets, “Don’t ever argue with me, you will lose.” I am assuming she was not including me in that tweet. She was a tenacious, head strong and independent young woman who had her entire life planned out.

She had an infectious smile, a steely stare, and a contagious room shattering laugh. She could melt your heart or make you pound your fist against the wall. She could debate any topic like a pro, and not give up until her point was across. She would hold the smallest of creations with the gentlest hands but she would beat a punching bag until her knuckles bled, and she used gloves. She was a friend, a leader, a captain, an advocate, a lover of life and her guinea pigs. She was also a daughter, and sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin and a friend to many. As parents we think we know our children, but we have come to find we did not know how many lives our daughter had touched. What a blessing it has been to meet so many wonderful people through this.

She was my little girl, she was a big part of my heart, she was my Lindsay Lou.

Although we all miss Lindsay dearly, her legacy lives on through the Lindsay M. Benton Cheer and Art Fund at Wilmington Christian Academy in adjacent with the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation. The Cheer and Art Fund was established to help the cheerleaders and the parents at WCA. Our goal, through this fund, is to help with some of the cost the parents incur and to allow the cheerleader’s to gain equipment, help with some travel expenses and allow them to be the absolute best they can be. Be the best they can possibly be, this was a goal of Lindsay’s. Through the Lindsay M. Benton Cheer and Art fund the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation also funds the Lindsay M Benton Cheer Scholarship. This scholarship is presented to a cheer leader that is in good standing and has been excepted to a secondary educational institution to peruse a career in medicine.

The Lindsay M. Benton Foundation was established to bring awareness to organ donation and the importance of donor registration. The Foundation will also financially contribute to Carolina Donor Services, Patriots In Pink, The New Hanover County Special Olympics, as well as the Lindsay M Benton Cheer and Art fund at Wilmington Christian Academy.   We will have one major fundraiser, a volleyball tournament, each year and this year it will be on Lindsay’s birthday September 29th at Capt’n Bill’s in Wilmington NC.  We would love for each of you to come and be a part of Lindsay’s legacy.

Th First Year:

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Our first year was hard, it was emotional, it was heartbreaking but it was also rewarding. We are thrilled to announce that we, as a collective group, were able to raise $8,900.00 in ONE DAY at the First Annual Lindsay M. Benton Volleyball Tournament. The total amount raised the first year of Lindsay M. Benton Foundation was over $19,000.00! We were so honored to be able to donate $4,000.00 to Pretty in Pink, New Hanover Special Olympics and Carolina Donor Services! (Our goal was $1,000.00 each!) We were also able to donate $2,250.00 to the Lindsay M. Benton Cheer, Art & Scholarship Fund at Wilmington Christian Academy as well as $500.00 towards the 2017 Patriots in Pink Fundraiser to help Going Beyond the Pink. 

 We as a family, and representing the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation, were asked to attend and speak at conferences, symposiums, state meetings and to hospital staff. This was also emotional, as we relived the day of Lindsay’s accident and the day she passed away, but it was also rewarding to see the smiles, the tears and the hear how Lindsay and our family has touched so many lives. speakl 2 We will continue to speak and tell Lindsay’s story as well as the importance of becoming an organ donor. April is Donate Life month and April 13th is Blue / Green day. Wilmington Christian Academy has asked that we attend their daily chapel on April 10th and share the importance of being an organ donor. I have asked that a special guest join us, the special guest is the recipient of a very special kidney, Lindsay’s. She will be sharing the recipient side of organ donation and how it has changed her life and her families life.


Please visit the foundation website at for so much more information on Lindsay, and the foundation. We can also be found on Facebook and Instagram. Please consider being a sponsor, a volunteer, or donating to the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation. Mark your calendars for September 29, 2018 and make your way to Wilmington NC, Capt’n Bill Backyard Grill at 4240 Market St. You can also register your 4 person co-ed team for the tournament the week before the twenty-ninth.

Thank you so much for all the support, love and understanding you have shown me and my family. Please continue to keep us in your prayers and please continue to support the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation.