Dakota Life: Remembering Trevor

Last Updated by Melissa Sievers on
Roxanne Vogelgesang shares her son's legacy.

In October, SDPB's Dakota Life will celebrate the human spirit and the blind ambition that drives folks to great accomplishments… and the perseverance that helps some overcome tremendous losses.  

Right now I want to share with you a short reflection on one story that I have yet to edit for that program.

Tip Off.jpgTip off before Rock the Rim.

In early 2019 I was pitched a story idea:  The community of Kadoka gathers each year in the school gymnasium for a friendly basketball game, called "Rock the Rim". The community comes together for one day and money is raised for a foundation to help children in need.  This organization works to help a vulnerable group in society, those who don't have the means to advocate and help themselves.   Because that’s what Trevor did.

Trevor Torkelson lit the path before him.  He was a beacon of light and hope in the community of Kadoka.  I was in town four years too late to meet him in person, but his mother Roxanne radiates his love when she speaks his name.  


In July myself and some SDPB staffers traveled to the southwest region of South Dakota to visit Roxanne. We were there to sit down and visit about her beloved son.

Graduation Pic.jpgTrevor would have graduated in the spring of 2016.

Photos of Trevor adorn the living room of her home.  He has white-blonde hair like I imagine my own tow-headed sons to have as they become teens.  I imagine, that like Trevor, they might have jobs in town when they’re old enough to work.

But four years ago, on August 29, 2015, Trevor headed to Kadoka to work at the local Subway.  He never showed up for his morning shift. At 9:30 in the morning, his young life was ended by a drunk driver.  Seventeen years of age and with his whole life ahead of him, his life's journey ended because he was at the wrong place at the wrong moment.

The foundation is very open about Trevor’s story on their website,  Trevorslegacyfoundation.org.   I knew about the progression of events.  And yet I stood in Roxanne’s living room with tears streaming down my eyes as she shared it with me.  How do you celebrate the life of your child after losing them so young?  How can you possibly move on?

Roxanne and her family are clear: They have to do this work because of who Trevor was as a person. It pained him to ever see a child in distress.  He loved putting smiles on the faces of kids.  He loved playing basketball.  He was a joy.   How could they not continue in his memory?  And they are still hearing stories about his effect on others in the community. One child has shared that Trevor stood up for them when they were bullied--He was their hero.

For anyone who has passed through Kadoka, you know that it is a tiny town on the I-90 corridor. While the community is small, some of its residents are scattered around the region as members of the ranching community.  I asked Roxanne if the foundation thrives in spite of or because of the small size of Kadoka. She states emphatically that she has found success with the foundation because of the support of the folks in Kadoka and the close-knit neighboring area.  

Packed Stand.jpgNeighbors pack the stands.



mascot.bowling2.jpgNBA team mascots play around.

Students from neighboring towns come to play in the Rock the Rim event.  Volunteers contribute numerous hours so that folks can come out for a night together with family and do some good in the world.  It truly is a community supported event involving nearly every aspect of the small town. The money raised is distributed to families as determined by an application process. 

Roxanne shared, “The biggest message I really want to get out there is we are here to help families. We are here to stand by their side, let them know that they're not alone. You get a prognosis that your child could be terminally ill or seriously injured, there's just nothing scarier. Many of our volunteers have been down this road. We've gone through this sort of thing. Also, our recipient families have been reaching out to each other and finding some support among themselves, and that's the biggest thing is to let families know we are here for them.”

Recipients.jpgTrevor's Legacy Foundation recipients become a large family.

Roxanne Hugs 1.jpg

Today, August 29, 2019, a community is mourning and remembering a very special human being they lost four years ago on this day. And they’re working to lift up each other physically by being present for each other with tokens of kindness.  Trevor's former employer at Subway puts out a table of cookies in his memory.

Subay 2.jpgTrevor loved selling cookies to every customer he could.

I really don’t know yet how I’m going to piece together this story, I am humbled by the task.  I am, however, grateful to share a tremendous example of South Dakota spirit… people rallying and lending a hand to those in need. I really believe that in the face of loss, that is the thing to celebrate.  




subscribe to sdpb email updates food blog link image learning blog link image living blog link news and information blog link science and technology blog link sports blog link image

Related content from SDPB Radio - Art

The Enduring Simplicity (And Complexity) Of Michael Hall

In The Moment ... September 20. 2018 Show 426 Hour 2 Michael Hall writes picture books that delight and endure. He's...

Art That Takes You Home

In The Moment ... July 18, 2018 Show 381 Hour 2 Jon Crane creates "Art that Takes You Home." After a tour at...

Renowned Artists Visit Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute

In The Moment ... June 19, 2018 Show 361 Hour 2 Art can be meditation, expression, activism, and escape. It can also...

Eagle Butte Artists Learn Tips To Flourish

Artists who turn their passion into a business venture can find it a challenge. They need to figure out the details...


The Multiple Hearts Of Laura Geringer Bass

In The Moment ... September 20. 2018 Show 426 Hour 2 When 13 year-old Briana's dad dies suddenly, she is faced with...

Read, Baby, Read: What's America's Best-Loved Novel?

In The Moment ... May 22, 2018 Show 342 Hour 1 What's America's best-loved novel? You get to decide. PBS launches...

Author Kirk Wallace Johnson's "The Feather Thief"

In the Moment ... May 1, 2018 Show 327 Hour 1 The centuries-old art of salmon fishing fly-tying has a dark side. It...

Jane Yolen Celebrates #Yolen365 And Counting

In The Moment ... April 26, 2018 Show 324 Hour 1 In March, author Jane Yolen released her 365th book. That means you...


Matthews Opera House Season Preview

In The Moment ... September 26. 2018 Show 430 Hour 2 The Matthews Opera House subscription concert series begins...

Fun Approach To Music Theory

Andrew Rogers – in home music lessons designed for children and young adults. Uses a unique teaching style that...

The Literary Style of Reina del Cid

Reina del Cid kicks off her summer tour with a stop in Sioux Falls at the Icon Lounge. She joins SDPB's Lori Walsh...

Eric Johnson Returns For Black Hills Playhouse Opener

In The Moment ... May 29, 2018 Show 346 Hour 2 Leave the ordinary behind at this year's Black Hills Playhouse Season...


Broadway Choreographer Chet Walker

In the Moment ... April 9, 2018 Show 311 Hour 1 The University of South Dakota Theater Department presents "Cabaret"...

Images of the Past: Stage To Screen

In The Moment ... November 27, 2017 Show 227 Hour 2 A new exhibit at the Old Courthouse Museum tells the story of...

Personalities: From Huron High to Broadway

Singer, actor, and teacher Joseph Mahowald graduated from Huron High School in 1977. He went on to study music and...

In The Moment ... Alex Meyer's Scenic Design

In The Moment ... May 10, 2017 Show 090 Hour 2 Alex Meyer. He's a junior art and theater major at Augustana College...