On the evening of April 17, 2017, Dakota Kilburn was walking home with his friends. He was in a crosswalk, between his Junior High and the Elementary School across the street. A car driven by a teenager, failed to yield, and struck Dakota, knocking him into another car coming the other direction. Bystanders had to lift the second car off Dakota, to allow for him to be attended to. Unfortunately, this senseless accident resulted in the untimely death of an amazing young man. The crosswalk will forever be known as “Kota’s Crossing”.
What made Dakota amazing? The list is quite lengthy. Here are just a few of the reason’s this young soul will be so sorely missed:
Dakota was a kind, loving young man. He made those around him feel happy, smile, and feel good about themselves. The typical teen behavior of belittling others was never found in Dakota. He always asked how others felt. He always told others they looked nice, gave compliments freely, and rooted for everyone to be successful.
Dakota loved football. He ate, slept, and breathed football. He always rooted for his teammates to do well and was a consummate team player. His love of the game always had him playing the game, carrying a football everywhere (as his wrestling coach stated, he would leave wrestling practice carrying a football), and studying the game endlessly. Dakota was always interested in what others thought of the games, their team, and his team. “What if....”, Dakota always asked this question. “what if... team X got Player X during the peak of his career”. “Who do you think would win between team X during their peak and team Y during their peak”.
Dakota was selfless. His love for friends and family always placed them above himself. “Kota” made others feel like part of the family. He was always willing to share what he had with those around him. Given a choice, Kota would choose to make others happy. One example of this selflessness was when Dakota, a huge Minnesota Vikings fan, had the option of going to see his Vikings play in their first year at their new stadium. Rather than seeing his team, Kota chose to take a friend to see his friends favorite team play at another stadium. This choice was made for Kota’s birthday gift. It was never a question which one Dakota would choose.
Dakota always focused on the positive. This carried through to his friends and acquaintances. There were smiles all around when Dakota was there, and even when he wasn’t. His friends felt his influence at all times. His group of friends broke stereotypes, and changed opinions.
After Dakota’s passing, his organs were donated to help others. While no one would want a world without Dakota, knowing that he had helped others even in death was what Dakota would have wanted.
Following his passing the community rallied around Dakota’s family. There was a candlelight vigil with over 500 people grieving with his family, and celebrating who Dakota was. A go fund me account raised over $17,000, to help with funeral and other expenses. The local walmart gave away purple and yellow balloons to anyone wanting to support Dakota and his family. A local soft drink shop, “Fizz” sold sugar cookies with Purple frosting to raise money on his behalf, they donated over $1100. The Minnesota Vikings sent a funeral spray to their “Biggest Fan”. A food train sent food his family for over two weeks. Junior High aged students rallied to create a memorial at the site where he was struck by a car. The Junior High Wrestling program changed the name of the award given to the outstanding wrestler, formerly known as the “Tough as Nails” award, to the “Dakota Kilburn Tough as Nails” award. The Junior High choir made a portion of the year end performance dedicated to Dakota. Dakota was scheduled to perform his first solo at this choir concert. Instead his friend Dyllan performed the song Dakota was going to sing in his place. In a measure beyond their years, his friends went to, and SPOKE at a city council meeting in an effort to change the structure of the crosswalk where Dakota was struck.
This scholarship is dedicated to Dakota’s memory, his love of football, and his selflessness. All funds for this scholarship are from the Dakota Kilburn Foundation to support youth football. The intent is to help other kids that love football, but are not able to play due to financial constraints, to play the game he loved with all his heart. The Wasatch Front Football League has agreed to match the support and will allow ten youth per year to play in the league as well. On his behalf, Twenty kids per year will be able to participate in the WFFL.