Kelly Best Spirit Award
A Legacy of Resilience
If you want to know about resilience, talk to a parent who has lost a child.
Marie Agioritis’s son Kelly Best was just 19 when his life – a life full of fun, love, laughter, plans, dreams, friends, and family – ended in 2015 after an accidental fentanyl overdose. As a friend of Saskatoon Community Foundation, you may remember his name. We have profiled the Kelly Best Fund and Kelly Best Spirit Award before as they are fine examples of how a family can work with Saskatoon Community Foundation to create a legacy to honour someone they love. But more than that, the legacy Kelly’s family is creating for him defines resiliency – finding stores of unknown strength, channelling strength borne of loss to create something that fulfills a greater purpose.
Marie knew her son to be kind and considerate, self-confident and giving. As the older step- brother, Cole Kachur got to watch Kelly grow from an active toddler to a good kid and into a good man. Kelly was well-liked, he cared about people, and he was somebody that people gravitated towards. Marie and Cole shared their thoughts on resiliency and how working with Saskatoon Community Foundation to cement Kelly’s legacy has helped.
Marie is honest about the risk she knew they were taking at a vulnerable time. “This has been hard, putting yourself out there is hard. We don’t want Kelly’s name assigned to the last 20 minutes of his life. He was so much more than that one decision, so much more than what poisoned him. (But) Resilience is being there for all the other parents who say their life is over because their child has died.” Cole spoke about finding direction when faced with adversity, that it can go in two ways: you can fold up your tent and say that’s it, I’m done, or you can find a common goal and work to help people. “There are feelings that never go away,” he shared, “but harnessing that to a deeper meaning and a higher calling gives us an opportunity for some of Kelly’s best traits to shine through, even though he’s not here.”
“Grief is lonely,” Marie said. “This takes some of the lonely out of the lonely. This is such a natural way to leave a legacy for someone’s life. I can’t stress enough how rewarding it’s been to see the good that’s been produced from his tragedy. You guys just make it so easy. We knew we wanted to do something, and this way we knew you would handle it all and we could just focus on Kelly’s legacy. Knowing that the scholarship fund is held forever, that Kelly will always be contributing in some way, is very powerful.”
Cole is certain that with everything they were going through, working with Saskatoon Community Foundation made it possible to do this work. “It has helped immensely to have the opportunity to do this in the first place. It’s being able to accomplish something beyond just living. And working with Saskatoon Community Foundation, even though we aren’t the biggest fund, we have always been treated with such respect and have always felt that our priorities have mattered. That support has meant so much.”
“About resilience after a tragedy, this is what we want people to know,” Marie said. “Listen. Listen to that little voice in your head that is telling you that you can do things you never thought you could do, you have strength you never knew you had, you have gifts you never knew you could give. That is resilience and that is what we want people to know.”
Saskatoon Community Foundation is grateful to Kelly’s family for sharing their story of resilience. To learn how SCF can help with your family’s legacy, call a member of our Philanthropy & Donor Services team – Jen at 306-665-9880 or Krys at 306-665-1754.
Kelly Best Spirit Awards go to students at Holy Cross and Evan Hardy high schools who exemplify qualities that were Kelly’s greatest strengths – tenacity, leadership, caring.
The Kelly Best Fund is directed in two tiers – addressing opioid addiction and education; and areas that Kelly would have appreciated supporting.
To support this Fund and it’s community impact, donate today.