s a freshman, Kraig Klosterman was nervous about his first year at Trinity Lutheran High School.
The last person he expected to make him feel comfortable was a senior.
But this wasn’t just any senior. It was Michael Healy.
“He came past me the first day of school, and he could tell I was freaking out and I was nervous,” Klosterman said. “He asked me if everything was OK, and I looked at him and I was like, ‘Well, no, everything is not OK.’ And he said, ‘If you need anything, just let me know. I’ve got your back.’”
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Klosterman knew he had a friend for not only his first year of high school but for life.
But earlier this year, on Feb. 17, Klosterman received devastating news — Healy was killed in a car wreck on U.S. 50 near North Vernon while coming home from work at SuperATV in Madison. He was 25.
“Mikey always made everybody feel important, and Mikey always put everybody’s needs before himself, no matter what,” Klosterman said before taking a moment to collect himself.
“Mikey was a very free-spirited person,” he said. “He made everybody laugh. He would walk into a room and say some ridiculous joke that only he thought was funny, but yet no one else would laugh, but yet he would. He just always brought life into everything that he did; and no matter how bad you were feeling, he could always bring you up.”
On Saturday, family and friends gathered to honor Healy for Mikey’s Memorial Ride. The motorcycle ride started at Trinity, from where Healy graduated in 2007, and went to SuperATV before heading to Salem and back to Celebrations in Seymour for a dinner, live music and another opportunity to reflect on memories of Healy.
SuperATV donated the red shirts everyone wore and also provided a meal during the stop in Madison. And Bob and Barb Tabeling donated the use of their Celebrations facility.
Before the ride left Trinity, there was a brief ceremony on the baseball diamond before the Cougars played New Washington. Pastor Andrew Currao offered some words before Healy’s father, Mike, threw out a ceremonial first pitch.
The baseball team then unveiled a banner with an image of black-framed glasses and “In memory of Michael D. Healy,” and hung it on the fence in center field. Mike Healy and his wife, Patti, then hopped on a motorcycle to begin the ride.
The ride was organized by Healy’s longtime friend and classmate, Trent Kimbrell. They had gone to Immanuel Lutheran School and Trinity from first to 12th grade and played sports together.
“Mikey and I were best friends,” Kimbrell said. “We were kind of two peas in a pod. We knew stuff about each other that no one else knew, and our bond was going through school, playing sports, talking about girls, doing all that kind of stuff. He was the greatest friend in the world. I don’t think I can say enough about him.”
In their free time, they often took full-day trips on their motorcycles, so Kimbrell thought a ride in his honor was the best way to pay tribute to him.
“We really had a good one-on-one friendship where we could just hang out with each other,” Kimbrell said. “We didn’t need a full group of people. It was kind of just our time together.”
Three motorcycles that Healy had built were a part of Saturday’s event. Kimbrell rode a pink one known as “People’s Champ,” and two other friends rode the other bikes.
“Patti asked me a week ago,” Kimbrell said of riding one of Michael’s bikes. “It’s an honor. I couldn’t say no to riding the People’s Champ.”
Patti Healy said the best part of the event is that proceeds go to the Michael Healy Endowment, which will help less-fortunate students receive a Christian education.
“If we can carry this endowment forever, that’s pride in me for carrying our son’s name,” Patti Healy said. “But also, the others that we can reach out and help, that’s the whole thing of what Trent wanted to do is help others and honor Michael, and the same thing with us. We are just blessed that we will be able to help other people.”
Patti Healy said that after the tragedy she heard a lot of stories about how her son made a difference in people’s lives.
“There were kids that came to the viewing that made comments that being in the hall here (at Trinity) and he would say, ‘Hey, let me help you out,’” she said. “I had no clue, and they are telling me this now of the impact he made on them. The same thing happened at his work. People came and said, ‘I would be having a bad day and no one else would notice, and he would walk right past me and say something funny, and my day would be made.’”
But, Patti Healy said, Michael didn’t do that for the attention or spotlight on him. That’s just the type of person he was.
So when Kimbrell organized the ride, Patti Healy said that was the perfect opportunity to get the endowment started.
“Now, we’re shining for him,” she said.
The day in February when police officers knocked on the Healys’ door and told them their son had been in a wreck is one they will never forget.
Patti Healy said she couldn’t believe it because at 2 o’clock that morning they had picked Michael up at the airport after he spent 15 days on the road.
“I was literally in shock because Michael has been the perfect child,” she said. “I’m not just saying that because he’s mine, but we never once had a bit of problems with him ever. He’s always been respectful, no drinking, no drugs, nothing. He just worked all the time, overachieved all the time.”
Michael had been back around home for a year-and-a-half. After graduating from Trinity, he earned a degree in high-performance engineering from the University of Northwestern Ohio in 2010.
He then got a job with Keystone Automotive, which took him to Pennsylvania, before some people he used to ride motorcycles with helped him land the job in Madison.
With a lifelong passion for vehicles and motorcycles, Patti Healy said her son’s motto was “Live life at full speed.”
“His whole philosophy was that if you’re going to do it, do it and give it everything you’ve got, and that was his school, his work, etc.,” she said.
Sarah Bevers also was a good friend of Healy. They went through Immanuel and Trinity together, and she said they were high school sweethearts, so she got to know his family very well.
On Friday night, as she and some friends looked through a scrapbook, she thought she would end up crying. Instead, she found herself laughing.
“I was almost crying because I was laughing so hard,” said Bevers, a 2008 Trinity graduate. “It wasn’t sad. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I just love him to pieces.’ He was loved by everyone, and he always made everyone feel welcome all the time.”
Looking at the scrapbook helped her remember all of the good times.
“It just brought him back. His spirit is still here with us,” Bevers said. “It was so him just to light up a room, Mr. Positive. If you were having a bad day, you didn’t want to be around him because he was going to be like, ‘What are you going to do to make that better?’ You’re like, ‘I just want to have my pity party right now.’ That’s just how he was. He had high standards, and he was so positive, and it was infectious. His smile was so contagious.”
Saturday also was an opportunity for ride participants to check out a garden that recently was constructed in Healy’s honor at Trinity. It includes a pathway, a bench, flowers, a tree and a decorative white cross.
Klosterman was instrumental in making that happen, with the help of Trinity classmates and his co-workers at Brown Hill Nursery in Columbus.
“Mikey loved Trinity. Trinity was his life. He really devoted himself to the school with his sports and with his academics,” Klosterman said. “When I came up with the idea, everybody was on board.”
Klosterman said the garden will never be finished.
“Each year, we’ll add to it and constantly keep it growing,” he said. “It will always be a spot for someone to come and remember the good things about Mikey.”
Patti Healy said it meant a lot to her that her son’s friends contributed to the garden. That’s one of many ways they have shown support, she said.
“These kids have reached out to us unbelievably,” she said. “As soon as they found out (about the wreck), they all left their jobs and stayed with us. On Mother’s Day, they just showered me with love. I am so blessed. They just keep shining their love for us.”
That support has gone a long way, she said.
“Honestly, if it wasn’t for them helping me, I don’t know how strong I could be,” she said. “The Lord is with me, and these kids have helped me push through to do the right thing. It’s just amazing.”
To contribute to the Michael Healy Endowment, contact Mike Bridges at Trinity Lutheran High School at 812-524-8547.