It was a chilly evening as roughly 150 people representing nearly every sports team at SOU, faculty members, friends and community members formed a semicircle around the football field, standing tightly together in a show of support for Raider Football Offensive Coordinator, Coach Ken Fasnacht.
On Nov. 1st, Fasnacht’s four month old son, Kolton Howard Fasnacht, passed away due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Coach Fasnacht walked onto the field to give a few brief words and the lights of the stadium went down, “I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” he said, “(Kolton) didn’t get to see the things you want as a father and mother…but we are truly blessed to have had the greatest four months of any man’s, or womans, life.”
Attendees were asked to turn on the flashlights on their phones and point them in the sky out of respect for Kolton. The lights illuminated the field. A group prayer and a moment of silence ended the vigil.
Supporters were given the opportunity to give members of the Fasnacht family a hug or quick words of support.
“It (the vigil) was very good,” said Blakelyn Birks a former football player who played for last years championship team. “A lot of the Southern Oregon Community showed up to support the Fasnacht family and Kolton. Everyone that showed up paid their respects to Coach Fas and Haley which was really nice,” Birks continued.
Director of Athletics Matt Sayre, praised the support given to the Fasnacht family by the SOU community and mentioned an opportunity for individuals to offer further support. “It’s been great,” said Sayre “there’s even a fundraiser to help support them.”
Sayre is referring to the Kolton Howard Fasnacht Memorial fund, A GoFundMe campaign aimed at helping with the financial burden of funeral and end of life costs. As of Thursday the 5th, the campaign has already raised over $12,000 from 170 donors.
Sayre explains that the fund was set up by a fellow coaches wife wanting to help. “He (Coach Fasnacht) is aware of it now but he wasn’t aware of it at first,” Sayre explains “that’s the hardest thing you don’t want to embarrass anyone but people want to help and may not know how.”
With Saturday’s homecoming game against Montana Tech looming, Raiders fans will have another opportunity to support the coach who is expected to be at the game, “He’s been into work and coaching all week,” said Sayre “He’ll be there.”
The death of Fasnacht’s son is not a tragedy he bears alone, according to the national Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the U.S. an average of 3,500 infants succumb to SIDS each year. The CDC explains that the disease is not very well understood and seems to affect apparently healthy infants within their first few months of life. The disease usually has no immediate or obvious cause.
Those interested in contributing to the research of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome may do so at the CJ Foundation for SIDS.
A private family service will be held at an undisclosed time.