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Elke Kennedy inspires action
Sean’s Last Wish works to build awareness and to encourage hate crimes protection

by Jack Kirven . Q-Notes staff

Elke Kennedy (right) has become a dedicated spokesperson for equality.
In the time since Sean Kennedy’s murder in Greenville, S.C., a few short months ago, something has happened that was probably exactly what local homophobic bigots intended least: A grassroots movement empowering the very people those hatemongers seek to brutalize and silence. Despite (or perhaps because of) the tragedy and emotional trauma she has endured, Elke Kennedy has become a champion for change. She has participated in four vigils across South Carolina, attracting hundreds of participants, and she has composed letters to legislators. She has lobbied with Columbia Mayor Bob Coble and State Rep. Seth Whipper. Because of her efforts at securing media attention, her son’s story was read into the Congressional Record by U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) in support of hate crimes legislation expansion. Currently, she has an online presence for Sean’s Last Wish Foundation, an organization that seeks to encourage equality, organ donation and political activism at www.seanslastwish.com.

Elke Kennedy resides in the Upstate region of South Carolina. A native of Germany, she still has family in Europe. On a recent visit she attended her mother’s funeral. Sean had wanted to attend, as well, but he realized he would be unable to because of his school and work schedule, so he sent a note in his place. Even in death, he reached out to a loved one — the note was buried, unopened, with Elke’s mother. Inspired by her son’s compassionate attitude, she advocates for equality, saying, “[Sean] was always there to stand up for other people or people that couldn’t stand up for themselves, people that needed help. And I know that he’s watching today and he’s saying, ‘You know what? Go Mom.’”

Kennedy brings her son’s story to Pride Charlotte on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 3:50 p.m.

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