It was November 9, 2010. Lindsey O'Brien Kesling had just graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona for her first job. Her apartment had a 'drive under' garage, chosen in part for safety since she was a young woman living on her own. Talking on her cell phone to a friend as she pulled into the garage, she didn't realize her keyless ignition was still running. She talked to several people on the phone that evening. It was a night like any other, alone at home with her canine companion, Chillbe, chatting happily with faraway friends, excited about the new life she was beginning.
Neighbors called first responders when they started experiencing signs of sickness -- headaches, etc. that came on for entire households out of the blue. Lindsey and Chillbe both were overtaken by carbon monoxide that wafted upward from the garage below. The beautifully appointed apartment was missing one thing -- a carbon monoxide alarm. A simple $20 item that she or any of her family members could have easily afforded and would have lovingly gifted her had they known to look for one.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is often called the silent killer because you can't see, taste, touch, hear or smell it. The only protection is detection and a CO alarm is the only way the silent killer can be detected. People continue to die from CO exposure and many more do not die, but suffer chronic medical conditions including permanent brain damage.
Most states have laws that require CO alarms in new construction. Lindsey's home state of Indiana remains one of just a few that do not have such a law in place. Lindsey's family formed the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation in her name to continue her legacy of helping young people through its art programming as well as to help others get educated (and protected with a CO alarm) so that other people didn't have to experience the terrible pain of loss from a cause so easily preventable.
The Foundation has had some successes in the past years, managing to pass local ordinances requiring CO alarms in new construction at the local (city and county) levels. We have given testimony at the Indiana statehouse on multiple occasions, urging legislators to adopt more comprehensive protection statewide. We are at a critical point within the next year where that dream is close to becoming a reality. But it will take ongoing pressure and presence on our part. And it takes financial support...
We are deeply grateful to several major donors who made it possible to grow the organization when it first began. Since beginning in 2011 as a family foundation, we have grown to an organization making an impact well beyond our geographic area and immediate social network. We have important work left to do to change laws and to keep spreading the word about carbon monoxide safety and are hopeful that others who share our mission will emerge to lend support. We are facing a deficit of $12,000 in funding heading into 2020. Our "2020 Vision" includes a more diverse network of grassroots supporters in order for us to remain sustainable. Whether you can make a one-time gift in any amount or decide to become an annual partner, we would welcome your support on this journey with us.
LOK Wishing Tree Foundation is a managed fund under the Unity Foundation of LaPorte County. Please indicate that your donation is to benefit LOK in the "notes" section. Thank you!