EDITORIAL: Mother turns grief into action

York Dispatch
Kevin Outen

Thumbs Up: Michelle Outen this past week did what no mother should have to do. The York County woman penned her 24-year-old son’s obituary.

She did something else that not all families wish to do. She shared the circumstances of Kevin Outen’s death, due to a heroin overdose, in his obituary.

Certainly not all families want to make their grief public, particularly when drug use, abuse and overdose death are at the heart of the tragedy. For some, privacy is preferred, particularly in such an emotionally fraught time.

That’s understandable.

And that’s what makes Michelle’s stunningly personal gesture so generous.

“Kevin was an amazing person with the biggest heart and most amazing smile. He enjoyed fishing, playing baseball, and being with his friends and family. All of the wonderful blessings that he had, talent, friendships, positive outlook on life, and, most importantly, family, were sidelined by a wrong decision to do drugs,” she wrote.

Michelle’s goal, she said, is to help overcome “the stigma of embarrassment and denial.”

It’s a tall order but we won’t even begin to address the problem if we can’t talk about it. And if Michelle’s open and honest approach helps even one family to broach the subject around the dinner table, her son’s death will not have been in vain.

Thumbs Down: To the burglars who broke into Hellam Township farmer Marlyn Miller’s pole barn on Christmas Eve and stole his four wheeler.

Miller, who is 84½, has farmed his land on East Ore Bank Road for 56 years, he said. He spent two years saving money to buy a utility vehicle that would let him zip around the farm. Last summer, he bought a used green 2002 Kawasaki Mule from a man in Red Lion.

The widower said he would use it to haul hay bales, cart firewood and to simply get around the property more easily.

Four young men, perhaps teens, are suspected in that burglary as well as several others, Hellam Township Police Detective Justin Golder has said. On Tuesday, he provided The York Dispatch with surveillance video that shows the group fleeing from a property where they'd broken into a shed, according to the detective.

Police confirmed this week that the Mule was recovered. It was found in the Susquehanna River by a duck hunter and collected by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

We hope these Grinches are caught – and soon.

Thumbs Up: To Kevin Heiser, also of Hellam Township, who created an online fundraising campaign through GoFundMe.com on Wednesday after reading a York Dispatch article about Miller's predicament.

The page is called "Replace Marlyn's stolen Mule (ATV)." The online crowd-funding website allows people to raise money for various causes.

"I feel terrible for the guy," Heiser said. "It's awful someone would steal from him."

Thumbs up, too, to those who donated to the fund. As of Thursday night, it was up to $3,200 and still climbing. Some who donated left notes expressing their regret over the incident.

The spirit of giving in York, it seems, has prevailed over the darker side of human nature.