Off The Press
May 12, 2009
By Greg Farrar
Friends had much to say about Kevin Tork
“Hey Kevin, I am so glad to have had the chance to have you in my life. You were such a blessing to me and all those around you. You’ve been there for me through so much.”
That is just one of the many notes on cards and letters delivered to Ken, Kathy and Kelly Tork last month after Kevin, 15, their son and brother, died playing a “game” that’s not really a game at all, but a treacherous and risky activity known on the internet as the choking game.Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink and I visited the family for several hours for an interview and photos, which ran two weeks ago in The Press. Two stories and an information box gave a moving account of the family’s heartache and detailed information from multiple sources on the deadly dangers of this self-induced high.
However, regarding much of our work, one of the everyday frustrations is photos left unused or information left out for the lack of space on a newspaper page.
The Torks loaned us a number of sympathy cards and gave permission to print any comments we chose. They reveal how much Kevin was adored by his friends and teachers.
In writing and editing, it was necessary to leave a lot behind. But I was moved, and today I want to turn over the few hundred words I’m allotted every month to their comments:
-“He was like the old student that I never really had and I enjoyed getting to know him and getting a sense of his kind, outgoing, optimistic and giving spirit.”
-“Whenever we had a playing test in orchestra, he would congratulate me and everyone else with a high-five and kind words, even if we messed up. He made everybody feel special and always had a joke to share. He was probably the most considerate, selfless and kind person I have ever met.”
-“I was amazed at your son’s kindness to others, his sense of humor and his incredible talent on stage. It was fun to watch his performances at IMS Squak Valley Players’ events.”
-“Every year, my students write a hero essay. They can choose any hero — most choose athletes, musicians and fictional personages. Kevin wrote his hero essay about his parents. He truly looked up to you and wanted to make you proud.”
-“I was blessed to know you. Lucky to have you in my life. You touched my heart and permanently attached yourself to my soul. I will never forget you and all the good times. Thank you for touching my life and making it better. I love you.”
-“Kevin was having a tough time getting the bat on the ball that season… and then, on a beautiful spring day at Robinswood Park, it happened. It was the last inning, two outs, two players on base and the Mariners were losing. Kevin came up to bat. He hits that baseball and sends it flying out to right field. Everybody stood, cheered, and a few of us had to wipe away a tear. Kevin was the game hero!”
-“I will never forget the amazing poems Kevin read in class. Your talent will be sorely missed.”
-“You are so kind and care so much about everybody else. I will always remember you as a strong, creative, and beautiful person.”
Hopefully, you have gotten a sense of the kind of person Kevin Tork was. And if you’re young, hopefully you will listen to the warning Kevin paid his life to give you.
“Don’t do stupid things,” he’d say. “I avoided all of them religiously but one. Don’t get drunk. Don’t speed. Don’t use drugs. Don’t play deadly games. Your friends and family love you too much.”