Ryan Clark | Coshoctom Tribune
FALMOUTH - Stephen Elrod was driving to work down the AA Highway on a foggy morning in July 2009 when a tractor trailer pulled out in front of him, causing an accident that ended his life at just 24 years old.
Stephen's parents didn't even know that sometime prior to the accident, he had filled out an application to be an organ donor.
"People told us afterward that this was really important to Stephen," said his father, Rick. "We never knew that, to him, donating was really special."
Nearly two years after the accident that took their son's life, Rick and wife Judy Elrod are helping to present the first "Stephen's Dinner for Life," a celebration dinner featuring entertainment to benefit the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerk's Trust for Life, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the need for organdonation in Kentucky.
The dinner - which also features speaker Dick Veale (an organ recipient) and a concert from local country-rock band Borderline - will be held from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. June 18 at Stonewood Gardens banquet hall on Memory Drive in Falmouth. Cost is $35 per person or $250 per table of eight, and reservations must be taken by June 12. Call 859-322-6332 or email@example.com if interested.
After commissioning a sculpture in Stephen's honor at Georgetown College(where the entire Elrod family attended, including Stephen's 23-year-old brother Jon) the family decided they wanted to do something more to honor their son and organ donation. Stephen, a valedictorian at Pendleton County High School, played basketball and graduated from Georgetown College. At the time of his death he was studying for his MBA.
"We really didn't know what else to do," Judy Elrod said. "Then we ran into a woman with Trust for Life, and this just progressed over a six- to eight-month period."
Stephen's liver went to a 60-year-old married father of two from Ohio. His left kidney went to a 17-year-old girl from Ohio, while his right kidney went to a 17-year-old high school wrestler from Kentucky. His aortic and pulmonary valves went to hospitals in Georgia and Virginia.
"At first, when you think about it it's sad," Judy Elrod said. "But then you realize a part of him is still living. That really is a good feeling."
Rick Elrod says this is not a memorial - it is a celebration of life.
"It doesn't bring him back, but it brings awareness," he said. "With all of the other horrible things going on that day, I didn't have to make the decision for him to donate. He did that for us, and this is a way to continue his work and spread his name."