ELWOOD,Neb. – An unvarnished, blunt assessment of the consequences of decisions was presented through the telling of the life and death of Todd Becker Wednesday afternoon at Elwood Public School.
Keith Becker, founder of the Todd Becker Foundation, shared the story of his 18-year-old younger brother, Todd Becker, a pole vaulter and football player at Kearney High School who made bad decisions that came back to haunt him.
As noted on the foundation’s web site: The Todd Becker Foundation story began on Feb. 6, 2005 when 18 year-old Todd Becker was tragically killed in an alcohol related car accident as a senior in high school. The shock and devastation from that tragedy forced Todd's brother, Keith, to examine and deeply consider the direction of his life. Shortly after Todd's funeral, at age 20, Keith realized the undeniable reality of death and his need for a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. From that realization, Keith was dramatically touched by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Todd Becker Foundation was born.
Students from Elwood and Overton High School attended the presentation.
After traveling across the country for 10 years telling the story of his brother, Keith said students usually have two reactions to his talks. One is to be impacted or possibly want to change your life. The other is to walk out of the presentation and have no change in one’s life, Keith said.
Showing a photo of Todd’s senior picture, depicting a blond young man next to a tree at the prime of his life, Keith said every high school student plans to one day have their own senior picture taken.
“Every senior plans to send an invitation (to their graduation) to their grandparents, favorite teachers, friends and have them unfold it and have their senior picture in their, to show beams of life. Sadly, for my 18-year-old brother Todd, the senior picture he took never got put into invitations, they went in front of the casket,” Keith said.
Before his death his senior year, Keith said his brother was working at Sun Mart grocery store in the frozen food aisle when a Christian man walked by him and was motivated to stop and give him a form with religious questions.
Keith said the sheet of questions the Christian man asked his brother to answer showed a glimpse into his heart, various no’s were the responses his brother wrote when to various questions.
Before the Christian man left he asked Todd the question , “Do you know where you will go when you die?”
Todd brushed the question aside. Keith said Todd most likely thought the questions were to far into the future for him to consider, “I’m an 18-year-old enough to think those religious questions,” Keith said trying to rationalize his brother’s thoughts.
Keith said his brother lived his life as if his choices would never impact him.
One month before his death, Keith said his brother was out drinking with two friends when he, Todd, was busted for driving under the influence of alcohol. His two friends were busted for minor in possession of alcohol, he said.
The next Monday at school, all three students were called into the track coach’s office. This was the track coach who had won a national record of 11 state track and field titles consecutively, Keith said.
Keith said the coach told Todd and his two friends on track team, “Do you expect me to sweep this under the rug? I’ve not done things with my team by letting the team members what ever they want. What I care about more than winning another title is where your life is headed.”
Consequently, the coach said all three track boys would be benched for the first track meet of the upcoming season. The coach warned all three if he even heard a whisper of any of them partying once the track season started, they would automatically be kicked off the team.
Todd’s parents grounded him for the next three weeks until he would attend his hearing before a local judge to address his legal issues.
A fixture in the local high school party scene each weekend, Todd was grounded at home and missed two weekends of drinking and partying. When the third weekend of his grounding came, Todd realized this would be his last chance to party with his friends before track season started.
An argument broke out between Todd’s parents when his father said he could go out with friends on the third week due to good behavior if his mother agreed and his mother said no. During their argument, Todd sneaked out of the house.
Keith said the last time Todd was seen alive was when he bought a case of beer and a bottle of vodka at a local convenience store where he was a regular customer. The clerk didn’t ask him for an ID, meaning Todd wouldn’t need to show his fake ID, Keith said.
After drinking lots of beer, around 12:15 a.m. on Feb. 6, 2005, Todd realized he needed to be home by his 12:30 a.m. curfew and that he couldn’t get busted again for DUI. One of his friends, who wasn’t that drunk, offered to drive him home.
The three boys cranked up the radio and drove down a familiar route. When they came up a hill the driver missed a turn, sped up to 65 to 70 miles per hour then bam, Keith said.
“You can cry out for help all you want but there will come a day when our choices will come back to haunt us. Whether you’re ready or not, too young or old, everybody will be held accountable,” Keith said about life choices.
“A few days later I never expected to carry my brother’s casket,” he said.
Today, the Todd Becker Foundation and its team travels throughout the Midwest sharing the tragic, yet powerful life and death story of Todd Becker in assemblies to public high schools, challenging students to take the narrow road. The story is told largely by Todd's older brother, Keith, and includes live music from the touring band "Chye", graphic images, videos and many other media elements. Since its inception in 2005, over 300 public schools and over 50,000 high school students have heard the Todd Becker Foundation's story and message, thousands of Bibles have been given out, and thousands of seeds of the Gospel have been sown.