Porter Lankford: 2020 PFL Scholarship Recipient
I would first like to start by saying how incredibly honored and blessed I am to be one of the recipients of the Lutzie 43 PFL Scholarship. At the beginning of my senior year, Mr. Mike Lutzenkirchen came and shared Philip’s story with my school. As soon as I heard the name “Lutzenkirchen,” I was captivated. I was born and raised in an Auburn family, so I was familiar with his testimony. However, hearing it from Philip’s father’s perspective was like taking a punch in the gut, but in a good way. After the visit from Mr. Mike, my school began the “43 Lessons to Legacy” program. I learned about the scholarship and knew I wanted to apply. For me, it was not about the money. It was more about the legacy and the meaning behind the scholarship.
I have grown up an Auburn Tiger, so Auburn University and Auburn football have always been a huge part of my life. The first football season I vividly remember is 2010. 2010 was a big year for my family, myself, for the Auburn Tigers, and for Philip. During that year, my dad got married, I gained a family, I found out I was going to be a big sister, and Auburn football won a national championship for the first time in fifty-three years. The first time I remember hearing the name “Philip Lutzenkirchen” was during that football season. Watching Philip catch the game-winning pass from Cam Newton, do the “Lutzie” in the endzone, and listening to Rod Bramblett call the play make it very memorable, especially since it was in the infamous and most watched Iron Bowl ever. Even at the age of ten, that play made an impact on me and Auburn fans everywhere. However, Philip was much more than football. His spirit and character made an impact on so many and continues to live on. He led by example, and the poor choices he made in just a few hours do not define him. His legacy does. His choices have taught lessons to many all over the nation. I, if anyone, know the importance of learning lessons. When I was six, I lost my mother. Through dealing with loss and stories like Philip’s, I have learned to resist peer pressure. My health and well-being are far more important than looking and feeling “cool.” Following the crowd and giving into peer pressure bring disappointment and unpleasant circumstances. My mom’s mistakes taught me a lesson that I might have never learned if it were not for her death and the poor choices that led to her death. The same could be said for the many people that Philip’s life has affected. Although I have never tasted alcohol, I have occasionally sent a text while driving because it seemed important at the moment. After hearing Philip’s story, I learned the importance of driving with a clear conscience. I learned that for me, no text is important enough to send or receive when I am behind the wheel. What is important is keeping myself and others around me safe by making the right choices.
Because of my personal journey, I am a firm believer in the saying “everything happens for a reason.” I believe the same could be said for Philip’s story. God used him to better the lives of many people. He touched many lives on Earth, and he continues to inspire us all from above. Philip earned his angel wings for the good of others, and I bet he dances in heaven with the other angels watching and dancing with him as he continues to lead by example in his heavenly home. His story bettered me and gives me hope that my life will be used to do the same.