Dear City of Kirkwood;
No matter how many times I try to write this letter, it will never be eloquent enough, thankful enough, or heart felt enough. No matter what I write, it just won’t possibly be enough.
Just over two short weeks ago, a member of your community was lost. As most all of you know, 14-year-old Cameron Herrin Vennard was in a tragic accident that ended his life on earth. Cameron was the son of two loving and amazing parents and the brother of two wonderful young men. All of which are fellow residents of Kirkwood. I am fortunate to call this family my very close friends, and to be considered “favorite Aunt Donna, ” three of my favorite words, by Cam, Ben and Nick.
I have to tell you how grateful I am and how grateful we all are for the heartfelt compassion shown by the Kirkwood community. From the first respondents at the scene, to the continued thoughts and prayers, to the daily cards that come in many forms to their home; it is overwhelmingly amazing. Your Chief of , Jack Plummer, could not have been more caring, professional and dedicated to the family and the community throughout these difficult days. The Kirkwood/Oakland officers who watched over the family and supported them during the days following were professional and polite.
I witnessed strangers coming by the house and giving cards with sentiments of sympathy and love. I saw teenagers overcome their own sorrow long enough to give comfort to the family. I heard friends sharing words of respect, love and appreciation for Cam, his family and each other. I experienced the huge hearts of Kirk and the staff at who, without hesitation, helped us start the Cameron Vennard Memorial Fund* to help the family, just 24 hours after the accident. They were welcoming, warm and willing to help one of their citizens. I had the pleasure of getting to know the staff at the . Pastor Scott, Donna and Leigh treated me like family after just a few phone calls, and embraced the Vennard family as if they were their own.
I have never before encountered a community of people like yours in Kirkwood. It is truly a small town feel in the middle of a city. I hope you are all proud to be a part of this remarkable community. I am not a resident, but am proud just to know a few of you. This family will continue to need your prayers and support. I have no doubt you are exactly the community to step up to the task.
I thank you from the depths of my soul for caring for a family I love with all of my heart. I wish you enough joy in your life to keep your spirit alive and the ability to find joy in the smallest things. I wish you enough clouds to appreciate the sun. I wish you enough “together moments” to get you through the times you are alone. I wish you the constant feeling of “community” that you embody so well. I wish you all blessings and peace.
As in the case of all darkness and tragedy, there comes blessings and hope. Moms have told me that Cameron’s friends don’t take the tracks as a shortcut anymore. Families are sharing stories of how the Vennard’s evident love for their boys has helped them to grow closer to their own children. Kirkwood teens are reaching out in kindness to others because they now see that life is truly short and time is precious. A friend, and Kirkwood mom, shared this with me tonight;
“After attending the memorial service, my husband now makes an effort to spend more time with our 14 year old. They take bike rides, play golf, and have started running together. Even my older son is nicer to his little brother since thinking about how much Nick misses his. I take more time to plan at least 1 special outing with my boys each week because I don’t want to regret not making memories.”
In honor of this, and many stories like it, a group of “Friends” are starting a tradition. We’ll begin this tradition now, and repeat it the last week of May every year in his honor. I hope you’ll join us, so mark your calendars. If you know a neighbor who doesn’t have a family, PLEASE invite them to be a part of yours. We hope you will honor Cameron, and your own family by supporting a “Stay in With Your Family for Cam” night. We ask that in the next few weeks you plan an evening to just stay in, together. Cameron loved movie night with his family, one of the many memory-making traditions the Vennard’s share. Enjoy a simple dinner without the TV on, listen to each other, and cherish the moments together. Then, think of Cameron, push the play button on the DVR and watch something memorable together. At the end of the night, hug your children and family; tell them you love them, and DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED.
*The Cameron Vennard Memorial Fund, in short, is to honor Cameron’s life. Cam would be thrilled with the thought that he is associated with helping his family financially, following a series of devastating costly events that have occurred over the past four years. He was a person who went out of his way to help others, create memories with his friends and help us all enjoy life just a little more. We feel the Cameron Vennard Memorial Fund is a real tribute to his extraordinary life, and his beautiful soul. Thank you to all who have helped already.
There will be two upcoming fundraising events held in continuation of the celebration of his life. The first is a family-friend event, which will take place on July 29th at Harry’s Restaurant & Bar Downtown on Market. The second is a Gourmet Chef’s Wine Dinner featuring EIGHT of the most talented Chefs in the Midwest.vThis event is scheduled on August 27th at Persimmon Woods Golf Club. More details coming soon. Please check the facebook page of “Cam Vennard 5-30.”
Letter submitted by Donna Eisenberg, a friend of the Vennard family.