Dave and Marcie Gundlach are optimists.
But, when their son, Adam, was killed in a water-skiing accident, their upbeat attitudes were tested.
Adam was their first-born, an active Oshkosh West High School junior, who was on the high honor roll, a member of the student council, varsity swim team, tennis team, St. Raphael's Life Teen program and a Mercy Medical Center volunteer.
Both Dave and Marcie are educators. After Adam died, friends and family grieved their loss. Memorial contributions poured in. Dave, Marcie and Matthew, looking for a way to share Adam's legacy, established the Adam D. Gundlach Fund.
"Adam was very much about what he could do for other people," Dave said. "We thought we would carry on that tradition. What better way to do that than provide scholarships for people to help them meet some of the goals they have for their lives."
In 2005, the Gundlachs awarded the first scholarships from the fund. It was a cathartic experience, simultaneously painful and powerful.
"To see these young people take on the next chapter of their lives was very rewarding," Marcie said. "But, on the emotional side, we knew and hoped that would have been Adam."
"For me, the biggest gift I could give society was Adam. I can't give them that anymore," Dave said. "But, it was a powerful experience, realizing something good could come of this. Up until that point, I didn't see a lot from this tragedy that was positive. This allowed us to continue to share some of Adam with others."
Though their world was shaken by these events, they found the strength to carry on Adam's tradition of caring for others. In that way, Adam will live on, forever.
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