Luke’s Gift

Adam Hanks of Sandoval and Sara Boeker of Carlyle met at freshman orientation at Kaskaskia College in 2003.  After orientation, Adam was afraid he would never see Sara again, but KC proved to be such a tight-knit community that they inevitably came together.  They began dating in 2004, when Adam worked in the bookstore on campus and Sara worked in the President’s office.   After graduating from KC, they went off to university, with Sara attending SIUE for her accounting degree and Adam attending Greenville College for his elementary education degree.  They were married in 2007.

They were a typical, happy young couple.  They bought a house on Joliff Bridge road to be close to their families in Carlyle and Sandoval.   Sara earned her CPA and works for a firm in Salem.  Adam got a job teaching sixth grade at Sandoval.  As is often the case, they found out in due time that they were to have a baby.  “We found out we were pregnant with our first child on December 5, 2012,” Adam wrote on Facebook.  “We told our families over Christmas, and they were ecstatic. “

In March of 2013, Adam and Sara found out the gender of their child.  It was a boy.  They were thrilled, and began making plans immediately in the doctor’s office.  Birth pictures, where he would go to college (KC first, of course), what he would be when he grew up, all the thoughts and hopes of parents-to-be. 

But there was a problem, the doctor said.  Abnormalities.  They were sent to St. Louis to a high risk pregnancy doctor who told them that their child, whom they named Luke, suffered from something called bilateral multicystic dysplastic kidneys (MCDK).  In a nutshell, the kidneys produce the amniotic fluid that the baby breathes to develop his lungs, but Luke’s kidneys were not producing enough fluid for his lungs to develop.  The doctor gave him a 0% chance.  “We were broken,” Adam wrote.  “Broken as someone could be.”

Adam and Sara refused to give up hope.  Doctors did not expect the pregnancy to make it to 20 weeks, or that Luke’s lungs would ever start to function.  Yet, at 27 weeks, Luke did practice breathing.  Then, at 32 weeks, Sara went into labor.

On June 17, 2013, “Luke came into the world after 32 weeks and five days at 8:36 pm, and breathed on his own and met his mom and me and looked at us and held our fingers as we read him a story, ‘Guess How Much I Love You.’” Adam wrote.  “He met his grandparents and felt their love.  Jesus called him home in his mother’s arms at 9:28.”  Luke had survived 52 minutes.

52 minutes is not long enough.  Adam and Sara decided that even though Luke’s life was short, he could live on and be honored in the memories and hearts of others.  They created “Luke’s Gift,” a Facebook page that celebrates the goodness and compassion that people show when being kind to others.   The premise is simple.  If you ever feel that you wanted to do something kind for someone, but did not want to take credit or call attention to yourself, you can do it in the name of “Luke’s Gift.”  Adam had 1000 “Luke’s Gift” cards printed, and so far stories on the Facebook page have come from 15 states and England about how ordinary people are showing compassion and kindness to others in honor of Luke’s memory.  “I never expected it to grow so fast,” Adam said.  “It really shows the goodness of people.”  Everyone is invited to “like” “Luke’s Gift” on Facebook and spread his story through compassionate acts.

Kaskaskia College holds a special place for Adam and Sara.  It is where they met, and where they fell in love.  They also believe in the practical good that KC does for its students.  “When someone asks, we always advise them to go to KC first,” Adam said.  “They can get the first two years under their belt, and try out different classes to see what they want to do.  It costs less and everybody there treats you like you are someone.”

Adam and Sara dreamed that Luke would attend KC someday.  “We set up a scholarship fund while we were pregnant,” Adam said.  “We created the Luke Hanks Memorial Scholarship and activated it two days after Luke passed.  It is funded by the memorials we received, and some day we hope to be able to offer a full-ride scholarship to a deserving student.  Luke will not be able to attend KC, but someone else can do it in his honor.”  The scholarship is expected to first be awarded for the Fall 2014 semester.

Luke’s Mom and Dad are wonderful people.  Their example of turning a personal tragedy into a greater good can be a lesson for all of us.  Please join “Luke’s Gift” on Facebook and help spread the joy.   Bringing out the better angels of our natures through acts of kindness is a wonderful feeling, and the opportunity to share that feeling is truly Luke’s Gift.

Log on to Facebook to learn more about “Luke’s Gift.”  For more about scholarship opportunities at KC, please visit​

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