Remembering a special birthday

My youngest son would be celebrating his 30th birthday on Friday.

That’s hard to believe. Although 30 is young, he will always remain even younger in my mind. He died in a tragic car crash along with three other people seven years ago. It was, as you can imagine, an event that changed many lives.

I knew that Lucas would want everyone to go on with their lives. It’s the way he was. He was truly a unique and unselfish person.

I can honestly say that I never heard him speak badly about anyone…even those who had mistreated him. His motto always was: If you don’t have something nice to say then just don’t say anything at all.

He was the guy that everyone liked. The little ones loved him because he got down to their level. People his age enjoyed being with him because he was the life of the party. Older folks were drawn to him because he had a special connection with them.

Although he died young, he was wise beyond his years.

I remember him at the age of four walking through the field with his grandfather. They were deep in conversation and when they returned to the house I asked my little son what they had been talking about.

“It was between us guys,” he said.

I never did find out what that discussion covered but I’m sure it was important, if only to the two of them.

Lucas did everything fast, as if though he knew his life wasn’t going to be long lived.

He was born Dec. 10, 1980 shortly after 12 a.m. My labor had started at about 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 9 and I thought I had plenty of time to get to the hospital. As fate would have it, I only had a few hours.

I rushed to the hospital with my mother and mother-in-law and within minutes that little bundle of joy was in my arms…ready to jump out and start his all too short life.

He had two older brothers, Will and Jacob, so his days of being a baby were short.

By the age of three he was riding a bicycle without the training wheels of course. He could run, jump, climb, and out do most of the kids in the neighborhood when it came to athletics. That was also about the same time that he packed up his little sister and ran away from home to go into town.

Living in the country, the road to New Athens wasn’t heavily traveled but Lucas and Elisabeth knew to “hide” when a car came along. Fortunately, their dogs didn’t and my mother found them ducking down into a ditch. “I saw the dogs and their little blonde heads shining,” she said when she returned them to my house.

The two had prepared for their adventure, taking along Reese’s Pieces for nutrition…they had just watched “E.T.” for the first time.

When he was four he begged me to let him start wrestling so he could defend himself against his two older brothers and their friends who were already hitting the mats in the Cadiz Biddy Wrestling program headed by longtime Cardinal Coach John Stephenson. I let him after talking to John who told me, “It won’t hurt him. It will benefit him and the program.”

(And it did. Lucas completed his wrestling career with third place finishes in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s tournament for three straight years in the 152-pound weight class. He was proud of that accomplishment but to this day he remains the only wrestler in Ohio to do so.)

As he continued to grow, he and his siblings, gave me many memories to cherish. There are a few I would like to forget but for the most part, I even enjoy revisiting those memories.

Since his death at such an early age, my family and friends have joined together to establish the Lucas D. Sedgmer Memorial Scholarship.

Each year, we present a scholarship to an OVAC wrestler and also to several graduating seniors at Harrison Central High School, which was formerly Cadiz High School. The scholarship is a way for us to continue Luke’s desire to teach and coach. It is also a way to keep his memory alive.

I knew on the day of his death that he would want something like this. He wouldn’t want us to mourn his passing but to celebrate the life he so loved.

As I reflect back on that life that he lived, I do so with great pride. The only mourning that I do is for those who never had the opportunity to know him. Lucas had much to offer this old world but that was not to be.

He was so unique and today I see him in his siblings, their children, his cousins and in all those who knew him.

Happy birthday, Lucas!

Sedgmer may be reached at