Woodbury Area Prayer breakfast speakers to share story of loss, hopeWhen Todd Stocker lost his daughter Makenzie in a tragic car accident three years ago, he and his family found ways to cope with the loss and began sharing with others.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
When Todd Stocker lost his daughter Makenzie in a tragic car accident three years ago, he and his family found ways to cope with the loss and began sharing with others.
Their story sinks in with this year’s Woodbury Area Prayer Breakfast theme: “Life Interrupted … Faith during Adversity.”
“What do you do now when your life is interrupted like this,” Stocker said of the message he’ll be delivering as keynote speaker of the event. “How do you even function?”
The Woodbury Area Prayer Breakfast is slated for 7 a.m. Tuesday, May 1 at the Prom Center.
Kellie Stocker will begin by telling her daughter’s story, followed by Todd’s keynote speech.
Makenzie was a ballerina in Houston, Texas, where the Stockers used to live before moving back to Minnesota.
The 18-year-old dancer was doing a photo shoot with two other friends at a lake in Seabrook, Texas, near her grandparents’ home.
“The photographs were amazing. Poised on the dock, Makenzie and her partner leapt and ‘pirouetted’ (whatever that is) as the camera froze them on film against the shimmering water and wispy pink sunset,” Stocker wrote in an article he titled “One of those Years.”
At the end of the night, Makenzie called him to tell him she was on her way home.
“She said ‘I love you dad,’ and that’s the last we heard from her,” he said in an interview.
An hour went by and she didn’t come home. Todd didn’t hear her coming through the back door to make her big “I’m home” announcement.
He began to worry and tried getting a hold of his daughter. She didn’t answer the phone, didn’t respond to text messages.
Later he and Kellie learned that just moments after their last conversation with their daughter, she was instantly killed in the accident.
The car she was a passenger in was broadsided by a pickup truck, he said.
“And that completely changed our life and everything about it,” Stocker said.
The Stockers moved from Houston to Woodbury three months later. Stocker said they couldn’t bear to stay there anymore because everywhere they turned, they were reminded of the crash.
Stocker was a pastor at Woodbury Lutheran until 2002 and decided to come back to a place that felt like home, he said.
While living here, Makenzie was a dancer with Ballet Minnesota. Her teacher Andy Rist later choreographed an entire dance that celebrated her life after learning of her death.
More than 1,500 people attended Makenzie’s visitation that lasted well over six hours, Stocker said.
The teen was known for her worship leadership work, singing and passion for dance and performing arts.
Todd and Kellie Stocker hope their talk at the Woodbury Area Prayer Breakfast leaves attendees with a different view on life.
“We always think we’re in control of our life. What happens when we realize we’re not,” he said, adding, “Our lives aren’t ever interrupted, God knows exactly what’s going to happen. There isn’t a Plan B in God’s eyes.”
Similar events they spoke at have left parents with plans to go home and spend more time with their children and tell them how much of a gift they are, he said.
“For dads, I found that they go home and just hug their kids,” Stocker said. “We as a society don’t do that enough.”
For those who lost a child, it’s a reminder that “relationships are eternal” and there is nothing more important than family, he said.
“This life is so temporary,” Stocker said. “Invest in the things that matter.”