By Natalie Simms
There is beauty rising from the ashes of the tragic death of 14-year-old Tori Luke, who was killed in a tubing accident this past summer. Her parents, Rockmart High School head softball coach Steve Luke and his wife, Robin, have created ‘The Tori Luke Foundation’ to help others and bring encouragement through Tori’s life and example.
“The foundation is something we’ve been thinking about for a while,” says Steve Luke. “So many people have reached out to us with so many positive messages about Tori. She had reached a lot of people at an early age.
“Tori was a beautiful young lady that did not want to disappoint anyone. She was that person that could make anyone feel special about themselves and their ability. Tori did not like being the center of attention, even though a times, she deserved recognition. She wanted her teammates and friends to be successful in sports and life. I believe we learn more about people once they are gone.”
Tori would have been a freshman at Rockmart High School this year and was a talented softball and soccer athlete. She was killed in the tubing accident in late July.
The mission is to “focus on giving back and teaching people that there is a better way to live life to the fullest”.
“We want to give back by healing others in need; providing financial support like helping a child in need with travel ball expenses or sponsor a team’s jerseys; teaching the value of knowing Jesus Christ; community outreach like speaking engagements with teams,” says Luke.
“Really our main objective is to help others and help people have a better day…we want people to learn through Tori.”
To help reach this goal, the Lukes have taken Tori’s personal journal and created the ‘Live Like Tori Journal’ for others to purchase and learn from Tori’s journey with Christ. All proceeds from the journal will support the foundation.
“It’s a 50-page journal of her drawings and thoughts about what she learned in her Bible study…verses she was studying. There is a blank page by each for you to do your own journaling,” says Luke.
“We put a rainbow on the cover, it’s become important to us. The first thing I saw after my wife called to tell me of Tori’s accident was a rainbow. The first thing when you open her journal is a rainbow. I am always seeing rainbows now and people have sent me thousands of pictures of rainbows…they are just reminders of her everywhere.”
You can purchase the journal online for $15.99 plus shipping.
“During her personal time, Tori always did what was needed to be a special athlete and student, but she also realized that having faith in Christ and believing in God takes as much practice too. ‘Live Like Tori’ means to be yourself, believe you are special the way you are, trust that you can do all things through your work ethic and Jesus Christ. Living like Tori is just you finding a better version of yourself through your daily life,” says Luke.
To help share the foundation’s message to the community, the Luke Family has purchased an old school bus that they will refurbish to be used for outreach events.
“We are building a foundation bus called ‘Always10’ that will be used to travel and reach out to families. It will be decked out with outdoor speakers and lights. I envision taking it to sports camps and clinics to share our mission. I also hope to be able to do speaking engagements with other sports teams,” he says.
Luke already renovated another school bus transforming it into an RV with four bunks, master suite, kitchen and more. You can check out photos on his Instagram page @make_old_new.
“One of the best things about COVID was that we spent every minute together. We went on three vacations on the bus during the spring and had the best time of our lives. Obviously, the worst about this year is that Tori died. But looking back, it was really a blessing that we had so much more time with her in the spring,” says Luke.
“It’s going to take a lot of time to work on the bus, but we can’t just sit around…we have to keep moving and doing what we feel led to do. Tori’s work ethic was unreal, she never settled. We want to share that you can take things that aren’t great and turn them into something that is.”
As for the future, Luke says the foundation will look to do more projects once they get off the ground and raise some more funds. A website and Facebook page for the foundation are in development. He is thankful for family, friends and group of volunteers that are ready to help.
“I would love to see the foundation get really big and do things like concerts, inspirational events,” he says. “Just get together and do something positive because we really need more of that in the world today than anything.”
Click here to read the obituary for Tori Luke.