In another section of the state, 18 year old Stephen Rutherford was enjoying life. An athlete and member of both prom and homecoming courts in high school, Rutherford was also a cadet with the local fire department.
As time went on, Stephen worked on a construction job at the Northern Bay Golf Resort. On Valentine's day 2004, there was an accident on the job site and Rutherford was severely injured. Three days later, at the age of 19, he was pronounced brain dead. Kathy Rutherford, Stephen's mother, was faced with a tough decision. With such a young healthy person, doctors spoke to Kathy about organ and tissue donation. After struggling with the decision, and knowing that there were two specific people waiting for heart and kidney transplants, she agreed that it Stephen always wanted to help people, so this is what he would want.
Little did Kathy know; Stephen's help would go much further. Stephen's organs saved five lives in all. His corneas also helped restore sight for two more people, and through tissue and bone donations, over 80 more people were helped. And Stephen's lungs? They saved the life of Trey Schwab.
Kathy Rutherford was very happy with the people that turned out to raise money and honor her son. It is also obvious that she is still proud of her son, especially when she sees someone like Trey Schwab. "It is a great feeling. Seeing Trey makes me feel like Stephen's life was worthwhile, but that sounds like a terrible thing to say. It is a double edged sword. It is hard to comment on one without it sounding wrong somehow, so what I like to say is this….Stephen always wanted to be a fireman – and he really did get to save lives."
On Monday at the Northern Bay Golf Resort, Stephen's mom, Kathy Rutherford and Trey Schwab hosted the second annual Stephen Rutherford Memorial Golf Tournament. The tournament brought in close to 100 participants including Trey Schwab, UWGB Head Coach Todd Kowalczyk,, Orlando Magic guard Travis Diener and former DePaul star Drake Diener.
Out on the course while our "Team Korinko" was struggling, "Team Diener" was taking the course by storm. Team Diener, made up of Travis, Drake, Jeff Berenz and Kyle Murphy won the tournament finishing 18 under par. An amazing score considering the holes that are replicas of some of the most famous holes in all of golf. After finishing Diener wasn't too quick to take praise. "I had a few good shots, and so did Kyle, but Jeff had the long ball all day. Drake didn't do anything, he never does. But seriously, it is just great to be out here to support the cause and to help Trey. He has been such an inspiration to me as well as many of my former teammates and coaches."
After the round the golfers gathered for dinner, purchased raffle tickets and participated in a live auction. The three main auction items were a chance to sit with Steve "The Homer" True and Jim McIlvaine for a home Marquette game of your choice, an autographed Michael Redd jersey and an autographed Travis Diener jersey. The Marquette game was the big winner, but the Diener jersey brought in twice as much as the Redd jersey bringing quite a bit of excitement and trash talking through the crowd.
At the end of the day Trey Schwab estimated that the event raised over $8,500. Looking as healthy as he ever has, Schwab, who now works with the University of Wisconsin Organ Procurement Organization, was obviously happy to be a part of it all. "It is so great that everyone came to honor Stephen. I am so happy to be a part of this with Stephen's mom and I thank them from the bottom of my heart, because I couldn't be here without them."
All in all it was a great event raising money for charity and celebrating the life of Stephen Rutherford. Kathy Rutherford's decision saved lives and helped many many people. But was it her decision or was it really Stephen's? Six days after the decision had been made and lives were saved, Kathy was going through Stephen's things and found his driver's license and there it was – orange donor sticker on the front, Stephen's organ donor approval signature on the back.
Become an organ donor. Get the orange dot for your driver's license and sign the back. Stephen did and not only did it save lives, it saved Trey Schwab.