Parents of murder victim trade grief for motivation to make a difference
By Tim D. Keith
Since their second child Luke died in October, Plainwell residents Dennis and Dorie Vincent said it has been easy to feel the arms of their neighbors around them.
“This community is unbelievable,” she said. “We’ve seen so much, it was unbelievable.”
Dennis noted the support the family received from seven local churches and a large part of the community during their son’s funeral service.
“People were saying while we were in the funeral home,
‘You should step outside and look at the line,’” Dennis said. “It was three or four wide and went around the block.
“For us it has been a huge help, knowing that friends, family and community is there for you.”
More than 700 people attended the service.
They said the community support, along with their own faith in God, has allowed them to work through their son’s death.
“(Dealing with this) is a God-thing,” Dorie said.
Luke Vincent, a 2006 Plainwell High School graduate, was killed in Kalamazoo Sunday, Oct. 21, after an altercation with his roommate.
The roommate has been charged with open murder.
Dennis said in the wake of their loss, he was shocked to discover how many people in his community had lost children.
He said many people have reached out to offer support and tell their stories.
“It’s therapy for us and them,” he said. “We have examples and see you can go on.
“I’m mesmerized at how many (parents have lost children). You think you’re alone, but you’re not.”
The couple said they have been working not only to go on but also make a difference in the lives of people around them.
Along with a former friend of Luke’s, they have started the Support4Luke campaign.
They plan on setting up a charity that will provide support for other families dealing with the sudden loss of loved ones. The group has planned but not set a date for a memorial 5K and other fundraising events.
“We’ve got so many ideas going through our heads,” Dennis said.
The couple has also kept in contact with Luke’s friends and encouraged them to look to God for support through their grief.
“We’ve had kids going to church for us and supporting us,” Dorie noted. “They may be doing it to humor us, but God can work through the back door. They’re searching.”
They said a part of their goal is just to talk openly about God, something friends recalled Luke doing while they hung out, often opening the conversation with the comment “let’s get weird.”
Dennis said his sons death has opened his eyes to the struggles many of the young people he knows go through.
“I’m really reaching out to young kids, telling them, ‘Hang in their, life can suck, don’t be afraid of talking, don’t go through it alone,’” he said.
For more information about Support4Luke, visit support4luke.org or search Support4Luke on Facebook.
Contact Tim D. Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (269) 673-5534.