Paying forward the legacy of four young men
Since 2007 four young men who have attended School District 196 high schools have died serving in combat. To Eastview teacher Joel Kiekbusch, that's an extraordinary fact.
After thinking about it, he wanted to come up with a way to celebrate the lives of Marine LCPL Daniel Olsen, U.S. Ranger Cpl. Ben Kopp, U.S. Army 1Lt. Christopher Goeke and U.S. Army Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt. Being an educator, he thought a scholarship would be the best way to honor the sacrifice the young men made.
He contacted the families of the soldiers and asked if they would support a scholarship in their sons' honor and they all agreed. Kopp's mother, Jill Stephenson, and Goeke's father, Randy Goeke, partnered with Kiekbusch to help establish the Warrior 196 Memorial Trust.
The trust will provide scholarships to students in the four high schools in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district. The Christopher Goeke Leadership Foundation serves as the fiscal sponsor for the trust.
Kiekbusch said the trust is a way to honor, remember and pay forward the legacies of the four young men.
"These were some amazing young men that died serving a higher purpose than themselves. We hope to pay that forward," said Kiekbusch.
Stephenson said they hope to provide a scholarship to each of the four high schools in District 196. She added that the criteria for the scholarships will include the interests of each of the men that died including the arts, athletics, academics and military service.
The trust is starting from nothing and a big obstacle will be raising money to support it. Goeke said even if they can provide small scholarships this first year they will feel as though they were successful.
To help build a revenue stream for the trust, the group will hold the Warrior 196 Memorial 5k at 9 a.m. Sept. 29 at Rosemount High School.
Kiekbusch, an avid runner and track coach, said he got the idea to hold a road race fundraiser after running Pat's Run in Tempe, Arizona. The 4.2-mile race is a fundraising event for the Pat Tillman Foundation. Pat Tillman was an NFL player who left the league after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to serve in the Army. He was killed in 2004 while serving with the U.S. Army's 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan.
Not sure what to expect, Stephenson said they are hopeful that people will turn out for the 5k. She said there is a large running community in the Twin Cities and they are hopeful they will support the cause.
"We hope to bring the community together to celebrate their lives and honor their sacrifice," said Kiekbusch.
For more information about the Warrior 196 Memorial Trust email Kiekbusch at email@example.com or call 952-210-0064.
Information is also available on Facebook.