Meet Jackson Griggs, a 2023 PFL Scholarship Winner
I was four years old when Philip Lutzenkirchen began to have his impactful run at Auburn University as tight end of the football team, and I was just nine when his life tragically ended due to distracted, impaired and unsafe driving. Even in a family of avid Alabama Crimson Tide fans, we mourned the loss of such potential and someone who was truly making a selfless impact on his community through service and sacrifice.
As an athlete myself, I can relate to the constant demands of performance and training and how little time is actually available in our day to do anything for oneself outside of the sport, much less for others. But this was the life Philip consistently led. I remember reading about how he took a young lady with Down Syndrome to his prom and how he used his platform as an athlete to advocate for children with cancer and those less fortunate. Philip’s life compelled me to apply for the Prepared for Life (PFL) Scholarship. I want to be an athlete and person like Philip was to so many.
I grew up without any ability to do outdoor sports due to an autoimmune illness which weakened my muscles, required extensive physical therapy and kept me out of direct UV rays threatening my health. When I went into remission as a preteen, I knew that this was an undeserved gift from God. I didn’t want to squander a single second He gave me, so I vowed to use any and every athletic opportunity He provided for God’s purposes and to live my life with gratitude. I promised the Lord that I would share His story of healing and second chances any and every chance that I am allowed.
When I heard Philip’s legacy, I connected with how short life really is. None of us, as athletes, deserve the platform God allows, and none of us knows how long He will allow it. Philip lived such an upstanding life, and with just one choice on one day, his life abruptly ended, but isn’t that what is within each of us? Every single day we have choices to make, and every one of us is fallible and capable of making the wrong one. Whether it is in the food we eat, the people we hang around, the attitudes we possess or a hair-trigger decision like being on a cell phone while driving or riding with someone under the influence, we all have so many weighty decisions to make daily.
I am incredibly honored to be an extension of the impact of Philip Lutzenkirchen. As an ambassador for the Lutzie 43 Foundation, I’m privileged to not only discourage distracted driving, but to encourage the 43 Key Seconds safe driving initiative. I pray that through my life, Philip’s athletic ambition and world-changing spirit is continued. Even more so, I pray I can model his servanthood toward others. I want to be as selfless as he was, as driven as he was and to have as much heart as he had. As I run collegiately in both Cross Country and Track, I want to advocate for constantly thinking about our choices and our influence. I learned through the Safeguarding Your Legacy Curriculum that Philip loved the Lord, and I do as well. He loved people, and I truly do too. I pray that I can impact people with this same love that Philip modeled so well.