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Local Executive To Kayak Missouri River For A Friend

You might think you’ve got great friends, but one local man could make you want to raise your standards. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes tells us how the Springfield native is going the distance for a longtime friend and the memory of one very special little boy.

Steve Edwards is the executive vice-president of CoxHealth in Springfield, and as you can imagine, he’s a pretty busy guy. He’s successful, married, and because of his most recent plans, some might even call him crazy.

“[My] family are kind of worried that this is a crazy event and that it must be some sort of midlife crisis. But, the reality is that since I was about nine years old I’ve been having this kind of midlife crisis where I like the sense of adventure,” says Edwards.

And he’s not kidding. When Edwards was only 16 years old, he rode his bike from Springfield to Kentucky and back, simply to have an “adventure.” That need for speed is about to come in handy because Edwards is getting ready to do some charity work.

He has entered the Missouri River 340. This race is considered to be the longest continuous canoe and kayak race in the world, and he’s doing it with only one goal in mind: to raise money for the Jacob’s Ladder Foundation. That’s a non-profit started by his friends, Steve and Deatrice Kellogg, after their son suddenly died.

Edwards says the money raised will go toward academic scholarships for kids who have specific interests, but not a lot of money.

“[It’s for] kids interested in liberal arts school, and then also interested in debate and math,” says Edwards.

To Edwards, this isn’t just another way to give back. It’s a way to help out a lifelong friend. He says that he and his friend, Steve Kellogg, have been through it all, and like most people, there have been times when they’ve let life get the best of their time. He says it has never changed their friendship.

“I believe you develop friends that the bonds can’t be broken, but with life changes, there are times that you spend that you don’t get a chance to stay in touch,” says Edwards.

Steve Kellogg and Edwards date their friendship back to little league baseball. They went through high school together, and eventually they were college roommates and fraternity brothers. Edwards was even in the same room, just 23 years ago, when Kellogg laid eyes on the woman of his dreams.

Steve Kellogg is the founder of Jacob’s Ladder. He says Edwards has been in his life for a long time, and there’s a reason for that.

“Well he’s one of my oldest friends, you know, so, I am overwhelmed, obviously, by his generosity. But it doesn’t surprise me in the least because that’s just the kind of man that Steve is,” says Kellogg.

Edwards stood by his friend’s side as he dated his college sweetheart, and he was there when the relationship ended. Well, almost ended. After the break up, Kellogg sent the love of his life a single rose every Monday for over a year. And just like any good friend, Edwards was there when Kellogg’s persistence paid off and he married the girl of his dreams.

Kellogg and his wife, Deatrice, worked hard. He became a lawyer and she a physician. They had three little boys and they were living the American dream until one heartbreaking night changed their lives forever.

“Jacob was a very bright, intellectually curious 15-year-old. He had just started high school and made straight A’s. And he died unexpectedly in his sleep,” says Kellogg.

It was nearly a year ago that the Kelloggs lost Jacob due to a medical condition associated with asthma. After he passed, a three ring binder was found hidden under Jacob’s bed. In it, the straight-A student had mapped out everything he needed to do in order to be accepted into Yale University. The Kelloggs started the Jacob’s Ladder Foundation to honor their late son and do something much bigger in the process.

“We decided that we wanted to kind of carry on a lot of the traits that Jacob exhibited and kind of try to see some of the same things in him that were in other kids as well, but were a little bit less fortunate than him,” says Kellogg.

Jacob loved to write poetry, short stories, and music. He also enjoyed debate.

As for Edwards, just like in the past, he’s standing beside his friend, doing all that he can to see him through an unexpected chapter.

Two weeks from now, Edwards will be in a kayak dodging river barges and fighting fatigue, strong waves, and mosquitoes.

He's asking folks to cheer him on by making a donation to the charity. To learn more about Jacob's Ladder Foundation, you can click here.

For KSMU News, I’m Chasity Mayes.

Anchor Tag: The Missouri River 340 will begin at 8:00 am on July 27th in Kansas City and will finish in St. Charles.