Meet John Reese Bellew, PFL Scholarship Winner
Thank you to John Reese Bellew for writing this blog post. Please continue reading to meet one of our 2020 PFL Scholarship recipients.
My name is John Reese Bellew, and I am humbled to be one of the recipients of the 2020 Prepared for Life Scholarship from the Lutzie 43 Foundation. I would like to thank the Lutzie 43 Board of Trustees and the Lutzenkirchen family for this scholarship award. My father is a former Auburn Football Letterman and I was raised on Auburn football. The name Lutzenkirchen is not one you forget, even when you are a young guy sitting in the stands and all of the players seem larger than life, you always remember a few key players. Philip Lutzenkirchen was one of the unforgettable players. I would see my sisters’ view his social media posts and I particularly remember him dressing up on Halloween like Woody (Toy Story), and at that young age I knew he was more than a football player: he was an inspiration.
Fast forward to 2014, we were on vacation when we heard about Philip losing his life in an automobile accident. We had never met Philip personally, but our entire mood was so somber. We felt like a family member had passed, and indirectly he was, because Auburn is like one big extended family. I remember thinking that something this tragic should not happen to someone who was such an inspiration to others.
In 2016, my mother was involved in a head-on collision with a distracted driver. It did not happen as most envision a drunken-driving accident. It was not during the middle of the night when we are warned is the peak hours for such accidents. Her accident took place at lunch less than one mile from home. God spared my mother, not the other driver. This incident reminded me of Philip losing his life. At age 14, I was determined to try and stop any of my friends from being involved in an accident or driving while intoxicated. However, at age 14, there are few of your friends, if any, out drinking or driving.
In 2018, I found the Lutzie 43 Foundation and began researching their work. After signing the online pledge, we entered a drawing and my family was a recipient of the Chick-fil-A Kick Off tickets through the Lutzie 43 Foundation for the first Auburn game. We talked a great deal about the Lutzie 43 Foundation on the way to the game, and I recommitted myself to getting their message into my community. Although I am not a great speaker myself, I was involved in leadership positions at my school, and I knew that I could find a way to get Mr. Lutzenkirchen (who is a great speaker) in front of my peers.
It took me until 2020, my senior year of high school to make it happen. I reached my goal and found a way to get Mr. Lutzenkirchen to speak to my school’s student body at Westbrook Christian School. I was surprised at how many of my friends knew the football player side of Philip, but they didn’t know the incredible guy he was off the field. Additionally, many students in the audience did not know how he lost his life. Mr. Mike’s speech was so powerful and emotional. He was the voice that I needed in order to get this message to my community. His speech opened the door for more conversations and more opportunities to share the Lutzie 43 mission.
During his speech, he told a story of Philip taking a detour on his way to spring break to meet with a super-fan young girl who needed to meet and speak with him. He told about Philip making himself available. Lesson 39 in the 43 Lessons to Legacy curriculum is about being available. I began to realize that that is an attribute that I could use to help prevent distracted driving in my community. I knew I could be available for anyone who needs a ride if they are in a position where they shouldn’t be driving or riding. I knew I could be available to listen to someone who needed a friend rather than getting in their car and driving when they are distracted. I knew I could “Live like Lutz” after I heard his story and after I completed that lesson in the curriculum.
I am an athlete, and as I played football I tried very hard to be available and be a mentor like Philip had been to so many young guys. I tried to set an example that a clear mind is a necessity, especially before driving. I was blessed to be a part of FCA, and our school had the FCA Bowl for the community kids. I was an FCA flag football coach, and each week we played a game of flag football with the elementary-aged kids, then we shared devotion and prayed over them. I certainly used my Lutzie 43 curriculum to lead my discussions, and I always made myself available to these younger kids.
I am excited to enter Auburn University in the fall and get to continue to spread the “43 Lessons to Legacy” lessons into my college career. I look forward to working with the Lutzie 43 Foundation at community events and assisting in spreading their message to others, raising awareness of their campaign, and being available to those who need me. Everyone should hear Mr. Lutzenkirchen’s heartfelt message, it could truly change lives- I know it did mine.
Thank you again for the opportunity to represent the Lutzie 43 Foundation as a scholarship recipient.
To hear from John Reese, watch his video here.