The following is the inspiration behind this Facebook Page:
By Shannon Shertzer
Presented at Kenny Smith’s Memorial Service
August 23, 2016
Today we are attempting to do the impossible. We’re trying to put into words how an extraordinary person impacted us and then somehow say goodbye.
When Kenny Smith walked into a room, there was a shift. He carried himself with a quiet energy that lit up a room. He made people laugh with his goofy, mischievous side. He was also a paradox. While he was shy at times he also was a bit cocky. Humble but also proud. Confident but also insecure.
Kenny loved his family and friends. All of us who sit (or stand) here today were blessed to know him. We’re also a bit lost. We didn’t think it would come to this. Our minds and hearts shout, “NO. NOT. KENNY!”
Not this vibrant, cool, young man with his whole life ahead of him. Not Kenny who with his sister used to prank people by sticking dollar bills up through the boardwalk cracks. Not Kenny who helped bathe my puppies and went tubing with my husband. Not this son who called his dad, Chief and who recently told his mother, “God isn’t finished with me yet.” We cry out “Why didn’t you heal him, God?” So many people were praying. So many supporting and loving and talking to Kenny. And he was working hard. God wasn’t finished with him. Kenny said so and we believed him.
So how do we process this? How do we say goodbye to an “unfinished” life? For me there are two things that come to mind. One, I won’t. I won’t say goodbye to Kenny. I’m only saying, “See you later.” Because I know we will. We will see him again one day. For those of us who know Christ, we get to say “Hello” again to Kenny Smith.
We are so sad. Our hearts are broken. We’re also angry. Pissed off at Satan, the drug lords and dealers and, if we’re honest, even at God. We wonder “why”. Why didn’t you protect Kenny, Lord? Or change him? Or heal him? And although we may not ever get a sufficient answer here on Earth, I have no doubt that Kenny is safe. More than safe…he’s perfect. He’s face-to-face with Jesus, our true hope. Because of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, we can be sure that Kenny’s okay. The “real” Kenny who is so full of life and energy is alive!
The second way I’m going to process this is to DO something to stop this epidemic that is killing too many people. Statistics vary, but in America alone, around 75 people die every day of opioid overdoses. It’s got to stop. Heroin and other abused substances are poisons that destroy lives. Kenny was working hard to rid himself of this insidious, toxic, imprisoning drug. But he lost the battle. We want it to stop. We need it to stop. So one way I’m going to process Kenny’s death is by standing up and doing something to stop the epidemic.
I’m going to stand up for Kenny so his life and death make a difference. I’d like to ask you to join me in standing up for Kenny. Some of us can do that through relationships. We’ve got to get vocal about this, folks. Maybe we need to have some frank conversations with friends who are tempted by this very seductive but deadly call of drugs. Some of us may be called to a career change or to volunteer. One of us could develop a better system for addicts. Some of us need to get clean ourselves. And there is support and love in this room if you will ask for it. Others can contribute to the Kenny Smith Freedom Foundation so we can collectively help one person who struggles with addiction have a fighting chance to win the battle. As of now, the account has reached over $5000 and that’s in 5 days. Already there is tangible proof that his death can be used for good.
I have no doubt that beyond money there are hearts here that are forever changed. Years from now when we look back on the day we found out Kenny passed, we will see a pivot point. Our lives will never be the same. How will they be changed? How will our characters be impacted? Will we allow God to use us to make a difference?
The Smith’s are honest people. They inspire us with their vulnerability and ability to talk about Kenny’s addiction. They live out a powerful and healthy example for all of us. So let’s not be silent. Let’s stand up for Kenny and fight addiction. In small ways. And maybe in big ways. His life and his death have purpose. Today, we have two practical things to help you in the fight against addiction. One is a Facebook page called, “I’m Standing Up for Kenny” where we can share stories about how we’re going to commit to standing up against addiction. The second is wristbands that say “I’m Standing Up for Kenny.” As you leave today you can pick up one of these wristbands to wear as a conversation-starter and a reminder to fight addiction in whatever way God leads you.
So, if you’re willing and able to stand up for Kenny, I’d like to ask you to symbolically stand up right now. And we will make a commitment together to make a difference; to continue the battle against drug addiction. To let God use us in whatever way he sees fit.