“The bond between friends cannot be broken by chance; no interval of time or space can destroy it,” St. John Cassian writes. “Not even death itself can part true friends.”
And not even death itself can erase the memory and legacy of Spenser Somers, a young man who lives on in the hearts and minds of the Edina High School Class of 1990.
Somers was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 1985 at the age of 13. He took his cancer diagnosis with grace, courage and dignity. He never let it hold him back. He was homecoming king, addressed his graduating class and always looked out for others. Writing was a passion of his, and he spent his evenings writing well into the night by candlelight. Somers passed away in November 1990. He was 18.
His friends still have a book of his writings.
“Once we stop looking up the road for satisfaction, and start looking around for it, that’s when it’ll come,” Somers writes.
To honor these words, his close friends founded the Spenser Somers Foundation.
“We were all lucky to be around him,” Chris Davis, foundation board member, says. “We wanted to help his name carry on and to honor that memory, that friendship, that knowledge he gave.”
Ryan Lund, also a board member, agrees. “I don’t know if there’s a better way to honor Spenser and his memory than to serve others,” he says.
Part of their service to others is the foundation’s annual golf tournament in June at the Woodhill Country Club in Wayzata. Money raised goes to Camp Quality USA, a national organization that holds no-cost summer camps throughout the country for children with cancer and blood disorders. The camp is held at Camp Victory in Zumbro Falls, Minn., for one week every summer.
“These parents can’t send their kids to any other camp. They need so much treatment,” Dan Arom, foundation board member, says. “They have their doctors and nurses right there so they can get their treatments and also be a kid.”
The camp also gives kids a chance to bond with their siblings.
“A lot of these kids … are staying at [the hospital] for an extended period of time,” Arom says. “You lose the relationship with your sibling because they’re not at home anymore … [The camp] re-establishes a lot of that by doing team events.”
The fundraising goal for this year is $30,000, which would finance camp for 50 kids. Since 2000, the foundation has raised $500,000.
“It’s a tribute to Spenser that he can still have that impact and that reach,” Lund says.
And that impact is amplified by the fact that between 90 and 100 percent of funds raised go to the causes they support.
“There’s little to no overhead. We’re all volunteers. We don’t have an office,” Arom says.
The foundation is truly a labor of love for a friend whose legacy lives on.
“We all know our time is finite. He just knew his was going probably going to end sooner than most,” Lund says. “You’ve got to seize the day and take advantage of the time you have and the people you’re with. He set that example at such a young age.”