Parents keep son’s memory alive by giving back to others

Parents keep son’s memory alive by giving back to others
Published: Aug. 27, 2023 at 10:11 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The parents of a young boy killed in a DUI crash are continuing to honor his memory by paying it forward.

For the fifth year, Liz and Ben Shemwell are celebrating their son Marco’s birthday by packing birthday boxes and donating them to nearby schools.

In 2018, their four-year-old son Marco was hit and killed by a car outside of Kroger Field at a UK football game.

One year later, Liz and Ben created the Marco Shemwell Foundation in his honor.

“We just knew that we wanted to do something special to remember him but also something that would help others and kind of help pay forward the kindness that so many people in the community had given to us,” said Liz Shemwell, Marco’s mom and cofounder of the Marco Shemwell Foundation. “Since Marco’s tragedy happened while he was leaving a Kentucky football game, the love and support that we’ve received from the Kentucky football family and Coach Stoops and the players is just something that is always so meaningful to us.”

Today’s event is the largest event of the year for the foundation, serving as an opportunity to give back to the community that supported the family through their hardship.

The boxes include cake mix, frosting, candles, cards and toys. Members of the community were invited to help assemble the boxes at Robert D. Campbell Junior High in Winchester early Sunday evening.

“The response that we needed in our time of need and in our time of suffering was just overwhelming by the community. We had so many people, some that we knew, a lot that we didn’t know, reach out,” said Ben Shemwell, Marco’s dad and cofounder of the Marco Shemwell Foundation.

Liz and Ben hope to surpass 4,000 total birthday boxes to help others celebrate their own birthdays as the community collectively celebrates Marco’s 9th birthday.

“We don’t get to celebrate Marcos’ birthday with him anymore, but it still feels like we do, and we get to celebrate his life and we get to remember him and honor him and so many other people join to help us do that,” said Liz Shemwell. “Knowing that his life and that his memory is helping others to be celebrated is just so special and we’re just so grateful for that opportunity.”

Marco’s family hopes to continue making those birthday boxes in the coming years, and they do not plan on stopping any time soon.