Student remembered for overcoming disability, positive outlook on life

Published: April 24, 2007  |  Source: friendsformichael.org
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Kristen Smith, a family studies senior, stood in the sun in the New North courtyard remembering her friend Michael Brent.

“We always sat outside and talked about all the things we had in common,” Smith said. “He never let his Disability stop him; he had the same dreams as everyone else.”

Michael Brent, a UK graduate student who was left paralyzed after a car accident in high school died last week from a viral infection. He was 27.

Inside New North Hall a pianist played hymns as more than 50 students, family and friends gathered together for a memorial service for Brent. A banner hung on a wall for students to sign in memory of Brent.

Drew Pope, chaplain of Pi Kappa Phi and fraternity brother of Brent, read Hebrew 12:1-2 early on in the service.

Many students reflected on Brent’s life and his impact on their own.

Justin Blevins, resident director of New North Hall who organized the memorial, had known Brent since he moved into the dorm.

“Michael had a positive aura he gave off to people,” Blevins said. “He was always smiling and very engaged with people he talked to.”

The new renovations of some dorms on campus, including the card-swipe security locks were partially Brent’s ideas, Blevins said. The New North courtyard may be dedicated to Brent, he said.

Management freshman Hammad Khan said he knew Brent through the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, and that Brent helped him with many school projects.

“He was always willing to give me advice,” Khan said.

Khan remembers Brent as a laid back person that lived a normal life like everyone else.

Ashley Tingle, a 2004 communications UK graduate, grew up with Brent in Campbellsburg, Ky.

“Michael was a very well rounded person who had a positive attitude on life,” Tingle said.

Friends for Michael, a non-profit spinal cord injury organization, was founded in 1997 after Brent’s accident. Cindy Norton, president of Friends for Michael read a piece of writing entitled ‘Life,’ which he had written and posted on MySpace.com.

Several professors spoke on behalf of Brent as well.

“I am privileged to be here and talk about Michael Brent,” said Doug Boyd, a communications professor. “He was an articulate and funny person.

“Michael’s inspiration is still an enlightening experience that remains in my classroom,” he said.

Boyd said some of his students posted responses on the class e-mail list about Brent after his death, writing how it was great to know a person like him.

Kevin Coley, a psychology freshman, lived in New North with Brent. Coley said he enjoyed talking about religion and enjoyed the great mood he was always in.

“Mike was love and life,” Coley said. “He shed love and joy into people’s life like it was his mission.”

To make a contribution to Friends for Michael, you can send your donation to The Cats’ Pause or go to their Web site http://www.friendsformichael.org/).

By: Leticia Janes