This past week we had the heartbreak of a totally unexpected loss to our family. My great-nephew Donavin Keim suddenly passed away, too soon and too early in life. One minute he was in gym class and the next minute he was on the floor, in need of medical assistance. He was taken to Trinity where they determined he had bleeding in the brain. He needed to be taken to St. Francis in Peoria as soon as possible. The wind was blowing too hard to take him by helicopter, so they took him by ambulance.
The time getting to Peoria was critical in his recovery. When he finally arrived at St. Francis, his condition was four times worse than when he left Rock Island. We had lost him, and he was put on life support.
Donavin was 17 years old and a junior at Rock Island High School. He was on the football and wrestling teams; he was proud to be a Rock Island Rock. We always knew he was Special, special in so many ways. He was never going to be the biggest, the brightest, or the fastest kid on the field or mat. We knew what his limitations in life were, but Donavin didn’t know he had limitations. He didn’t know he was too small to play football or athletic enough to wrestle on the varsity level. That is what made Donavin the person that he was. His love of life, family, friends and sports were the world to him. He had an amazing gift to always smile and talk to anyone who would listen. He would make us laugh, and we laughed with him, not at him. He was an only child, and losing him is especially difficult for his mom and dad. Although he was an only child, his family was extensive on both sides, in addition to his ‘family’ at Rock Island High School. (The family was truly moved by Coach Stortz, who drove from Rock Island to Peoria to give the family Donavin’s #50 football jersey and spend some time with them before he passed.) If you ever asked Donavin to do something, you didn’t have to ask him twice. He had so much energy and happiness to go around for everybody. He will be missed by everyone whose life he touched.
We know he is in a better place with a new purpose to which he can give all his energy. His life continues here, as he was an organ donor; he has changed the lives of 8 children and their families. He has given the gift of life to people who will never have a chance to know this special young man. In many ways, he was just like any other teenager who is curious and adventurous and, yes, a bit mischievous. I am not saying he was perfect, but he was ours. We will never see him again. We have emptiness because he is gone. But we also have pain because he left us so quickly that we did not have the chance to say good-bye, to tell him that we cared about him and loved him. If he had been ill, we would have had our chance to say our good byes. But we were busy, going about our daily routines, and then he was gone. Just like that. And that is the pain we’re left to live with. Life is never a given. God has given you another day; make the most of it. Tell the people in your life that you that you love them. Tell them every day!
Tribute to Donavin Keim, Student/Athlete at Rock Island High School, Class of 2015. A life gone too soon.