Levi Russell Bender Foundation
Memorial Eagle Project
Dear Friends and Family
Over 10 months ago our whole world changed. Levi was driving to church to serve on the sound board, the road was wet, his car hydroplaned and almost broke a telephone pole in two. He would have been super proud of that! Unfortunately, the pole won, and we lost……we lost really bad.
He had his seat belt on, he wasn’t texting, he wasn’t late…… just one of those awful life things. It is all heartbreaking.
Thanks to the quick actions of bystanders, we had two additional days with Levi. Amazingly he looked like himself. How he managed to keep his handsome face intake is a gift from God. We quickly knew that Levi’s brain did not survive the impact. We really didn’t know if Levi wanted to donate his organs……we decided it was that best gift we could give with the worst circumstances.
Levi was able to donate his heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and corneas, and many tissue samples to CORE. We know he has helped over 300 people. It is truly astounding.
Although we are grateful, he helped so many, we would rather have Levi with us in one piece. We have no idea how many people from around the world were praying for a miracle. We know it was a lot and although we would have absolutely loved that, it was not God’s plan. I can’t say I love this plan; however, we trust in the Lord, He is sovereign. Levi got the best end of this deal. He is in paradise and truly living the best part of his life. We are still learning to keep living without our son, brother, uncle, and friend.
As many of you know Levi was an active member of Boy Scouts of America and had reached the rank of Life Scout, one rank from Eagle Scout. Our Scout Master and Troop 40 graciously applied for an Eagle Rank in Memorial. Our Mountaineer Area Counsel granted this request, and we are so grateful. Only Levi could manage to get his Eagle rank without doing the paperwork. He really hated the paperwork!! We would like to complete this project in honor of Levi and the many years he spent in Scouts. My husband and I both have ideas of projects that would honor the person Levi was. Levi never really committed to any specific project, so we get to pick. I really wish he was here to drag him through the project. Believe me it would have been a struggle to get it all done by his 18th birthday. This is an Eagle requirement with very few exceptions. With this in mind, we want to complete the first project by September 24th, 2022, Levi’s 18th birthday.
The first project is based on Levi’s love of camping. Levi camped almost every month of the year with Boy Scouts. He really loved going to Cranberry Glades and had started an annual trip with his scout troop for wilderness camping. This National Forest is near and dear to our family. It is wilderness camping at one of West Virginia’s most beautiful National Forests. Everything must be biked, hiked or packed in. Levi had been to Cranberry 6-7 times. The last trip was with Ron and a small group of friends from Ron’s college day. It was the start of what we thought we be a long-standing tradition. Best made plans, right?
Levi helped coordinate two different trips to Cranberry with Troop 40. This was one of his favorite trips. On the first trip, two of the boys got a flat tire. In wilderness camping, it isn’t uncommon for a bike to need a quick repair, a little more air in a tire or a chain adjustment. We would like to put a bike repair station at the entrance point of Cranberry Glades. We feel this would be a useful and long-lasting project to honor Levi’s love of wilderness camping. Update - This was completed on His birthday 9/24/2022. Just in time!
The second project is based on volunteering our family has been involved in since January of 2019. We started volunteering to provide the food and preparation of a meal the last Monday of every month at the Clarksburg Mission. Our family did this every month for all of 2019 and into 2020. When the pandemic hit, we went to just dropping off the food for the staff to prepare as we were no longer allowed to serve.
Levi and Amelia really enjoyed helping with this. I mean they weren’t jumping up and down about it, they are typical teenagers. Levi really did enjoy serving food to the residents. He loved when they came back for seconds. Levi loved food! In working at the mission for all of 2019, it was very apparent that the kitchen is in desperate need of renovation. I had the opportunity to talk with the director by “coincidence” a little over a week before Levi’s accident. I expressed my desire to have a project that really outlasts Levi and his Eagle project, something that would impact the community. I had no idea what a statement that was. My desire is for this to be a major renovation. This is not a small task. We are awaiting an estimate for this renovation and will post that as soon as available. To donate to the mission and this project use this link...
Thank you for helping us honor Levi. We miss him so much.