LAKE CITY, Iowa -- Growing up in rural Calhoun County, Andrew Lauver preferred the cornfield over the classroom and working with his hands over writing with them.
“You could ask some of the teachers I had in high school. I wasn't really that good.”
Andrew struggled to express himself on paper but a girl named Chelsey Henkenius encouraged him to do so.
“When I was in Canada I’d never journaled or had a diary so when I started up there I told her I was going to keep a diary of every day. She said, 'No guys don`t have dairies they have journals'," Andrew laughs.
It was a silly promise he'd keep as a way to stay in touch with his school sweetheart. It was meant for the times when he spent time away from Chelsey.
But now Chelsey is gone. She died on December 27, 2014.
Andrew says, “I wish she wouldn`t have left so soon, it doesn't make sense and I ask myself why a lot.”
The two began the trip home to Lake City when Chelsey lost control on the ice and crashed into another car.
“You would think that passenger would be the one that would get hurt more and the driver would be fine but that wasn`t the situation here,” says Carroll County Sheriff, Doug Bass. “Especially young kids like this ya know, it’s hard.”
Now that Chelsey is gone, Andrew is keeping his promise. In a blog, he wrote down everything he loved about her. He intended for only his family and friends to read it however, within hours of posting it online, it caught the attention of 3,000 readers. It’s now reached more than 10,000.
“It helped. It was a little therapeutic to express myself and pull it together because I wanted other people to know the type of person she was,” Andrew smiled. “I just think she is gonna rub off on a lot of those people.”
Andrew says he had no idea his words would carry so much power. Neither did Chelsey’s parents.
Chelsey’s mother Jodi says, “To see that love story touch so many people, it has just touched our hearts.” Father, Jim agrees, “Because of hearing some of the stories and the memories, others have actually made some changes for the better in their lives; different people going back to church.”
Chelsey's parents, say it was always like to Chelsey, to inspire and encourage. It's no surprise she continues to do so.
Read Andrew’s blog here.
Others are also choosing to remember Chelsey. Wartburg College renamed a track invitational after her in January. Chelsey ran track for four years at the college. She graduated in the spring of 2014.
Chelsey was 22 - years - old.