Kacy DeVries was one of my best friends in high school. He grew up on a farm near the tiny town of Matlock, Iowa. Like me, he was born with Cerebral Palsy, but his walking was much worse than mine. My walking wasn’t very good in those days. I had major surgeries later which dramatically improved my walking, but even before my surgeries I was still usually able to walk without crutches or canes. But Kacy could only walk with the assistance of crutches. I first met him and his twin brother, Kody, at a soccer game when we were on opposite teams for our grade schools. The three of us became good friends. I found out the hard way that Kacy’s crutches were very potent in a game of soccer.
Kacy’s cheerful disposition and his ‘never-give-up’ attitude was infectious. He had a lot of challenges in his life, but he never gave up. We had a special bond, partly due to our disabilities. We didn’t think of ourselves as having disabilities, but it did add to our friendship, because we understood each other.
We planned to go to college together. We were going to be roommates. On 1/29/1993, we spent the entire day together at a college in Iowa for college visitation day. On his way home that night, he died in a car accident, when a wheel came off of his car. It was a very bizarre accident, and was a devastating loss for me and his family.
After the accident, I decided to go to college at the University of South Dakota instead of going to college in Iowa. And that’s where I met my wife Jennifer.Kacy’s family is also very special, and I am proud to know them. I am proud to have known Kacy, and to have called him my friend. I will never forget him. After the accident, his family gave me one of his crutches — it was broken in the accident. I keep it in the Mayor’s office as a reminder of Kacy, how short life is, and how he always put other people ahead of himself.
Kacy’s joy and freedom came from riding his horse. As a tribute to Kacy and to his wonderful family, my sister-in-law, Sonia Sieg (an artist and teacher in Douglas, WY) painted the picture below of Kacy on his horse. The setting is the south pasture of his childhood home, where I remember riding horse with him.