My son Caleb Emil Stenvold died by suicide. The official cause of death was asphyxiation by hanging. He will be forever14. Caleb was the youngest of 5 boys. If you took the best of each of the four and combined them into one, that was Caleb.
Cay as we called him was thoughtful, adorable, funny, unabashed, confident, competitive, smart, neat and just getting started in high school. He had made new friends, his teachers liked him and his coaches admired his work ethic.
One of the first things that came to mind as I waited for the medical examiner to arrive was "Cay will be forever14" He won't be at his awards dinner tonight or any night. He won't go to anymore dances. He'd just went to homecoming and had a great time 2 nights before. We won't be going to France to put his french to the test. We won't be going to the 49er game with Uncle Shane. We won't have that kick ass party at Squaw for your 15th birthday next month. No more snowboarding adventures. We'll never know what you would've done in track, you were so damn fast and were going to break records. Now we'll never now.
What I do know is this, I will keep telling your story. The story of a boy who had it all. A kid with opportunity and privilege. A boy from a good family on the right side of the tracks. A child well loved and provided for. A teenager slaying high school and impressing the upperclassmen. A player that believed he could so he did. A friend that left behind an ARMY OF ANGELS I used to call your friends or as you called them "Bruh".
We have begun the process of creating forever14.org, a non profit to raise awareness and reduce teen suicide by developing and implementing peer to peer programs at the middle school and high school level. Our programs will facilitate interpersonal connection, guard against technology addiction, and empower our youth by giving them a much needed voice.
The process to start a 501c3 is lengthy, 6 months or more. We are not waiting. The first thing we did was recognize two of Caleb's many attributes, one was wearing crazy socks to be unique in uniform and the other was to bring a smile to who ever was around. So we started collecting and wearing crazy socks. So far we have collected over 1,000 socks that our community, both Miners and Cougars will distribute in our more vulnerable areas, homeless camps and target schools.
We have also created and are distributing free Pop Sockets and stickers. These are a reminder to put down your phone and/or whatever you are doing to look up and connect with those around you. Hats, t-shirts and crazy socks are being designed and will soon be available in the #forever14 Etsy Store.
Tomorrow is November 14th, our first connect day. We have promised to put away our phones and do what Cay loved to do, We're going to meet up with our friends, we are going to play a game, we're going to listen to music, maybe even make some and we're going to Tech Out and Check In. Cay was happiest when everyone was included.
For us, his family & friends, we are still seeking answers. We have yet to access his iPhone which he had in his hand when I last saw him 3hrs before. Current laws and Apple policy prohibits me, the Parent and Legal Guardian, from immediate access to my child's phone. This must change. I will fight for our right to a back door into our child's online world. Fighting Apple and other people will take everything I have and more but No Mother, No Parent should ever have to wait for what may
Caleb attended Bishop Manogue Catholic High School on several merit scholarships. He was very proud of his accomplishments as he should be. He worked hard in the class and on the field. He was a multi faceted human. In the spirit of Caleb we will be awarding scholarships to no less than 5 of the organizations that helped to build Cay's character. Every child deserves the opportunity to play and grow into the amazing person God designed them to be.
With in hours of Cay's death we knew in our hearts Cay made an impulsive, irrational, irreversible decision. We know he would take it back in a second. We know he didn't understand the finality of his actions. I think a lot of kids do dumb stuff but in Cay's case, he can't come back for this is the ultimate dumb move. Checkmate.
Please consider donating to our cause in memory of our beloved Cay. Our hearts will forever be broken and the hole he left in our life will never be filled but with your help we can save another. We can bring suicide into the light. We can keep talking about the #1 killer for ages 12-19. We can make changes in how we interact with each other. We can change laws. We can secure our parental rights. If we can stop one child from making a poor decision to end their life, our mission is accomplished but our goal is bigger than one child, please join us in this fight. If this can happen in my family, it can happen anywhere.
The funds we raise for #forever14 will be held in trust and used to foster our message through the initiatives mentioned above. We have created a Board of Directors and a Teen advisory board. We will work together to expand our actions and advance our message and meet our Teens right where they're at. Please join me in the fight of my life.
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