Carrying the Mission of #43 – Kevin & Brittany Link
Thank you to our Lutzie 43 Foundation NextGen Board Members and dear friends of Philip, Kevin and Brittany Link, for authoring this blog post in memory of Philip Lutzenkirchen on his birthday, June 1.
My name is Kevin Link, and my wife Brittany and are honored to be a part of the Lutzie 43 Foundation NextGen Board since its inception and calling Philip and the Lutzenkirchen family some of our closest friends. Our main role with the foundation has been helping with the annual 5K Road Race, including Brittany leading the NextGen Board for the last few years. We have a 2.5-year-old daughter named Lily, and are expecting our second daughter any day now. We began dating our Junior year at Lassiter High School, having recently celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary. Both Philip and the Lutzenkirchen family have played a large role in our lives as individuals and in our marriage.
I met Philip when the Lutzenkirchen family first moved to Marietta, Georgia when we were in the first grade. We became fast friends and grew up playing sports together, spending much of our free time together all the way through high school. I ended up going to Princeton University to play baseball and of course Philip went to Auburn University to play football. Even being in different states and playing sports with opposite schedules, we were able to maintain our close friendship throughout college. I was able to make it to at least one of his games each year, and he was even able to make it up to Princeton towards the end of our senior year – no surprise he instantly fit in with my friends there and that weekend remains one of my favorite memories from college.
Brittany and Philip met in middle school and by high school Philip had become her best guy friend. I think Philip loved that we started dating because it meant he got to hang out with both of us at the same time, even if he put on a tough face sometimes (like making Brittany ask for his permission before we officially started dating – thankfully he gave his blessing). Brittany went to the University of Tennessee, and they too maintained their close friendship. Brittany was able to make many trips to Auburn to visit Philip and some of our other high school friends there. She also got to brag about Philip to her UT friends at what was unfortunately a pretty low point for Tennessee football.
We both cherish having grown up through so many stages of life with Philip. It makes us sad that he hasn’t been here to experience new stages with us, all of which would have been so enriched with his ability to love hard and bring laughter and goofiness to every situation. However, we’re so grateful to be able to continue to share those moments with the rest of the Lutzenkirchen family. We have gotten to become even closer with all the “Lutz” girls, although I can’t really compete with their friendships with Brittany. Mike and Mary have continued to be huge role models for us in our lives, especially now as a married couple and parents. We were lucky enough to get Mike to agree to officiate our wedding and have both of them act as mentors throughout our engagement and beyond.
That is a lot of background to try and speak to how extremely important the Lutzie 43 Foundation is to us personally. It is a reminder to us how important a strong community can be, and it makes us thankful for the one that we got to grow up in with the Lutzenkirchen family. It provides reason for us to get together with that community and keep those bonds strong – the annual 5K Road Race acts as a sort of annual reunion for many of us that went to Lassiter High School, which is something I believe makes Philip smile each year.
In a broader sense, we believe the Lutzie 43 Foundation is spreading a critically important message for young people to hear, and doing so in an impactful way that can truly make a difference in how they think. To have a family that’s personally experienced this tragedy directly speaking with young people about making smart, safe choices, particularly when it comes to getting behind the wheel, is very powerful. We’ve been fortunate enough to see Mike speak and see the work the foundation is doing with 43 Key Seconds and the difference it’s making in communities all across the country. In our short time thus far as parents it is scary to think about raising kids to make smart decisions when you’re not there, and even with just a toddler it’s very apparent the many times kids don’t want to listen to their own parents. We truly believe that getting young people exposed to the foundation’s message has and will continue to save lives and prevent other families and communities from having to experience a similar tragedy of losing Philip due to decisions made behind the wheel of a vehicle.
To living like, loving like, and learning from Philip,