Run/Walk celebration impresses Kill

SLEEPY EYE-University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill wore a smile, blue jeans and cowboy boots as he walked to the podium with Deb and Scott Hadley at Kaylie & Tyler’s 5k Colorful Walk/Run celebration in front of several thousand people Saturday night in Allison Park.

“I’d fit good in Sleepy Eye, driving in my pickup truck with the windows down, playing country music. If every town was like this, the U.S. would be a great place to live,” Kill said. “I’m blessed to be here and see what’s going on. The rain poured until I got here and the sun was shining. I learned a lot about Kaylie (Hogue) from her mother (Deb Hadley). She taught me a lot and I appreciate it. It made me better. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a person get up and talk like that in front of all these people. It says something about faith. This is a great day. Kaylie gave us a lot of epilepsy awareness at a difficult time.”

Kaylie Hogue died from an epileptic seizure last June at the age of 24. Her brother, Tyler Hadley, was one of young four Sleepy Eye men killed in a car accident in March. The others were John Mangen, 18, Payton Adams, 17, and Caleb Quesenberry, 17.

Kill said he began suffering seizures after receiving cancer treatments, but said he, like many people, didn’t know much about epilepsy or even admit he had it at first. “My wife has been my caretaker. I’ve had a couple close calls,” Kill explained. “She and Deb are both mentally tough people.”

Last month, Kill announced his Chasing Dreams Fund and donated $100,000 to support the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota. He plans to raise $500,000 by Aug. 1, 2014 to address children with academic and social issues due to epilepsy, the lack of school support services and resources, and the lack of safe and appropriate recreational activities for children.

The fund will pay additional financial support to Camp Oz, a one-week residential camp near Hudson, Wis. for youth with epilepsy. The fund will provide training and materials for Minnesota and North Dakota schools to improve school environments for students with seizures.

“We’ll need doctors and nurses at the camp and we’ll create jobs for people with epilepsy who can’t find work,” Kill explained.

Kill said he grew up in a town with 2,000 people. “I’d bale hay, go to school and play football. Sometimes my dad made me miss practice if I misbehaved, but he taught me valuable lessons,” Kill said. “I was a walk-on college football player and the first one in my family to go to college. I thought about quitting college but didn’t. Since then, I’ve had a tremendous journey over 31 years. If I can come from that little town and become the University of Minnesota football coach, you can make it too.”

Kill said he doesn’t consider coaching football “work.” “If it becomes work, I’m done coaching. I just want to enjoy it and follow my passion. Even if they fire me from coaching here, the Chasing Dreams Fund will continue for a long time. Keep a smile on your face, don’t be too proud to hug each other and tell people you love them. It’s important. God bless you and go gophers.”

Deb Hadley said she and her husband Scott were very humbled by the celebration turnout. “For all of us to roll over and be miserable the rest of our lives because of what happened to our kids would be wrong,” she said. “Be kind to others. Give to those in need. Remember all your gifts come through God. Remember the Serenity Prayer Tyler had tattooed over his heart – God grant me the wisdom to accept the things I can’t change. Don’t cry for our kids. Pray for us and your kids.”

She praised Coach Kill for being a good Christian man able to bring the best character out in men who almost immediately called him after she e-mailed him a year about about her daughter Kaylie dying of epilepsy.

More than 160 silent auction items at the celebration included sideline passes and use of Rebecca Kill’s stadium suite for Gopher football games.

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