Karle's Korner: Mike and Mary Lutzenkirchen: Giving back in their time of grief

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:

I really didn't know how to feel. As a TV sports anchor for over 30 years, it's always nice to land an important interview.

But this was different. This was Mike and Mary Lutzenkirchen, a strong couple of faith who less than two months earlier had lost their only son.

As Mike and Mary walked into my house on Monday morning, I could only greet them as warmly as a person who had never met them could.

The Lutzenkirchens were ready to speak out about their loss, and they chose FOX6 to help with their message.

A little backround on how this interview came about, followed by a few more thoughts, and finally, when and where you can see the piece:

Weeks ago I had written a blog, sharing my thoughts about the Philip Lutzenkirchen tragedy (it remains here on MyFoxAL.com and Karle's Korner).

My message? Don't judge Philip, as he was a fine young man who made a poor choice (failing to wear a seat belt, riding in a car with a drunk driver).

That blog quickly travelled to the Lutzenkirchen home, where soon thereafter I received an email from Philip's father Mike, thanking me for the support (he later told me it was the first time he had ever written a member of the media).

After a brief chat I simply told him if he and his wife were ever up to talking on TV, to give me a yell.

Last Friday Mike e-mailed me, saying that he and Mary would be in Tuscaloosa over the weekend to watch Abby play soccer and were willing to talk on their way back to Georgia.

The Lutzenkirchens then agreed to stop by my house on their way home on Monday morning.

Mike Lutzenkirchen is an intelligent 51-year-old who has lost his best friend, a son he calls his "big, goofy kid."

Mary has lost her loving, emotional son, a 23-year-old who was never afraid to tell someone that he loved them.

But through their pain, they are looking ahead to what the newly-created Lutzie 43 Foundation can do for children (and adults).

You see, Lutz loved kids, so much so that when Philip told Mike that he wanted to go into coaching, Philip told his dad he would coach on the high school level rather than the college level.

The reason? Philip believed he would have more of an impact on younger kid's lives. (You can visit the foundation's website at www.Lutzie43.org.)

What's ahead for the foundation? Everything from providing mentoring to at-risk kids to educating young people on the risks of drinking and driving.

During the interview, Mary, with tears in her eyes, told me that both seat belt and DUI education must be one of the foundation's platforms.

Like parents everywhere, she and Mike were very tough in teaching their kids driver safety. Still, a nightmare took place on June 29, and a family will forever grieve.

When and where can you see the Mike and Mary Lutzenkirchen interview? It will run Wednesday, August 27 on FOX6 News at 10 (should air about 10:08 pm CT).

The piece will then be re-run Saturday morning between 10-11 CT on our statewide "Tide & Tigers Today" program, seen on TV stations such as WAFF Huntsville, WSFA Montgomery, WDFX Dothan, WXTX Columbus, GA and, of course, FOX6 WBRC Birmingham.

And don't forget about our website, MyFoxAL.com, as we will post the story Wednesday night after the late news.

I want to thank Mike and Mary for speaking so openly about their son and their new foundation. As a parent of two teenagers, their honesty has reminded me of the blessings of having children and the worries that go with it.

And the most important take-away from this post? Spread the word on the foundation and the www.Lutzie43.org website and be sure to visit it now.

I hope you get a chance to share this post on Twitter and Facebook, and I'll see you on FOX6 Wednesday night!

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