Rec Club Carries on Student’s Legacy
On the northeast side of Hartwell Hall there is a garden featuring a crab apple tree, black mulch, planted flowers, a bench, and a big rock with a plaque that reads “Lindsay’s Life and Leisure Garden.”
Lindsay Kyle didn’t make this garden. She never tilled the soil, pulled the weeds, or sat there to reflect — but her family and students in the Department of Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation & Tourism, do. They do it every spring.
Kyle was 26-years-old and only a few months shy of graduating when she was killed by a drunk driver. Due to her love for Brockport and her program, her family created the garden in 2005 as a place to honor all innocent victims of DWI.
“We wanted her presence to be permeant at Brockport,” said her mom, Sarah Kyle.
Her father, Lee Kyle, thinks of the garden as a place of solace. Sometimes he will drive out to Brockport to check on it or fix something. Other times he comes to just sit for a few minutes — to feel her in the garden.
“Having the garden there is important to me from the standpoint that Lindsay is still involved in campus. She loved it. To have her still there is really important to me,” said Lee.
Typically, during each spring, students from the Rec Club, in the Department of Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation & Tourism gather to clean and replant after the winter. However, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a two-year hiatus from such activities. So, when spring 2022 rolled around, the garden was in desperate need of attention.
“This year is the major comeback,” said Ya-Ling Chen, Ph.D., the club’s advisor, and a faculty member.
“I’m really excited that we can give it a good revamp and make it look as good as it did the day, we dedicated it,” Lee Kyle said.
The comeback Chen describes is about more than just aesthetics. It also included a renewed effort to spread awareness about the dangers of drunk driving.
The club started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for The Mothers Against Drunk Driving Foundation. When a donation was made, the person’s name was placed on a flower tag and put into the garden. The effort raised $950.
“We have wonderful rec club members, they’re willing and really passionate about this project,” said Chen. “This event allows students to gain experience with programming and planning, which ties directly back to their education, but it also introduces them to Lindsay and what her garden and life stand for. I think this (garden and event) is a symbol that unites the faculty and students.”
The revitalization event included Lindsay’s family, family friends, rec club members and students in the Army ROTC program at Brockport.
“I’m having lots of fun,” said student Savannah Harvey. “There are tons of friends to hang out with and you can make news ones.”
Lindsay Kyle was born in 1977. She had one younger brother and attended Greece Olympia High School. When it was time for college, Brockport seemed the obvious choice. Her family had deep rooted connections there.
She had switched her major a few times but when she found therapeutic recreation, she called home saying, ‘Mommy I found what I really want to do,’ Sarah Kyle recalls. “She was a really focused kid, I knew once she found it, it wouldn’t be a question.”
On October 18, 2003 Lindsay finished up her last term paper and headed out for a late-night dinner with her fiancée.
On the way home, they were both stopped at red light when a drunk driver, driving 106 miles per hour, crashed into them. Lindsay was killed.
“I was at home. The sheriff came to the house at 2 or 3 am in the morning, knocked on the door and delivered his message. He did it with great compassion,” said Lee Kyle. “Such a tragic loss at such a young age. With an upcoming graduation and marriage. Her life was just getting started and it was taken.”
Brockport was a special place for Lindsay and it seems that she was special to Brockport, too.
At her funeral, Brockport students arrived on buses. They each carried a pink rose and one by one, placed them on her coffin.
Lindsay loved Brockport. “She loved every minute of it.” Sarah said. “It was a source of pride for her. She worked so very hard.”
So the family chose a spot outside Hartwell, where Lindsay had most of her classes, and planted a garden. They asked friends and family to bring something from their gardens to contribute to this one. The boulder that now holds the “Lindsay’s Life and Leisure Garden” plaque came from her grandmother’s backyard.
The plaque reads “sit and feel the breeze upon your face. Treasure each day, each breath, each friend, because … life is sweet.”
“I think the message on the plaque is important to let people know that there are consequences. That as a young person you’re not immortal, bad things can happen to you,” Lee Kyle said. “Lindsay’s message is don’t drink and drive — not only for you but for other people around you.”