welcome to the city of avon

Many of us are making holiday preparations – decorating, planning parties, buying gifts and enjoying time with family, friends and neighbors. It's a joyous time of year.  

It's also a painful time for those missing someone dear who is not around to celebrate.  I can't help but think about Kaleb Keffer and his family.

Kaleb, a 16 year old junior at our high school, suddenly passed away in August from injuries sustained in a car crash.  It's hard to understand such a loss. I remember my dad telling me years ago that parents should never have to bury a child. As a dad, it's one of my biggest fears.  Yet, it happens, and it happened right here in Avon, leaving a huge, gaping hole in the heart of our community.  I did not know Kaleb personally, but felt I got to know him after hearing and reading so many heartfelt tributes. They said he was funny and made them laugh; that he was kind and cared about others. At his young age, he left an indelible mark on others' lives.

That really hit me when I walked into our packed football stadium for the candlelight vigil held in his honor. While the majority were students, there were many parents and community members, too.  It reminded me again of how Avonites put their arms around each other when times are tough.

A crushing loss like Kaleb's forces us to think about how fragile life is. It reminds me of a young brother and sister in our city who will face Christmas without their Mom.  It also reminds me of the beloved grandchildren of one of our former Mayors, Tom Wearsch, who will not have grandpa around for the holidays this year.  And they aren’t alone, there are many others who will be experiencing the holidays without loved ones.

Kaleb's obituary said, “He was Living His Best Life." Even in his last moments, he was being his best. He became an organ donor. Think of the families that will celebrate Christmas as a result of this enormously generous act. How can anyone not be affected knowing this child of 16 made such a difference?

Hopefully, Kaleb's gift motivates us to commit to being better people by making a long overdue call or visit or extending a hand in friendship to someone we do not know or someone with whom we have argued.  We should never forget to be grateful, we should be thankful for all the blessings that we have. I believe that would be a one of the best ways to honor all those that won’t be with us this holiday season, to be truly grateful for what we have.

This message has been by far the hardest one I have written.  It was hard because I know of so many people who have lost loved ones and are hurting.  What we must remember is that “Grief is not the absence of love. Grief is the proof that love is still there.” (Tessa Shaffer).  And that love is good. 

As we celebrate this holiday season, take a moment to remember why there is hope:  For unto you is born this day in the city of David….

Wishing you the very best this holiday season and always.


Bryan K. Jensen
Mayor, City of Avon