Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Celebration/Ashes Spread

There will be a celebration with some of Justin's ashes spread on Saturday, July 28 in the valley near Lewiston, Minnesota. More information and directions will be posted on the blog as the date gets closer. If you are a non-family member interested in attending, please send an e-mail to, so that we can get an accurate head count. Thanks!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Leaving Earth and Going to Heaven

By Kim Wittmers:

On Sunday, March 11, I made the trek to Chaska to visit JJ. I brought along the finished scrapbook and JJ asked me to read it. On the last page I put the poem by Robert Frost, "The Road Less Traveled." We spent time talking about the road JJ was on. We both knew it wasn't the road he chose, but he was thankful his friends and family were walking it with him and that made all the difference.

I asked him if he was scared. He thought about it for a moment and replied, "No, just a little nervous." He told me he didn't want to miss all the amazing things here that his friends and family will experience. But he also said there will be amazing things in heaven. He just couldn't have the best of both worlds.

We talked about how his family and friends left behind will miss him the most. That we will carry him with us forever in our hearts. That his life will go on because of his love for us and Christ.

We talked about our youth trips at COG, the late night discussions about God, faith, purpose and the spiritual high we always got on those trips. We always wanted that spiritual high to last forever. I told JJ through my tears that he's going to have that high for eternity. That he will be made whole again and will understand everything. Somehow, I think he knew this before he left.

The last thing we talked about was why he didn't go into youth ministry. He didn't think he had the qualifications and didn't know what to put on his resume. I said he was over qualified with all the volunteer work he did at church in the youth program. I could have written a reference letter for him just like I did for all those college entrance forms. He joked and said, "Well, maybe I should put it on my resume for the Big Guy," and pointed up. I laughed and said, "He already knows."

JJ asked me to stay longer, but I knew he slept more often than not. We said our good byes and that we would see each other soon.

It's been just over three weeks and I still find myself in tears. Not a day has gone by in my life since I left COG, that I didn't think of JJ. Something reminds me of him - a runner, baseball, camping, church, a comment on the radio, my son. Life - I guess.

I thought he was invincible, I just never knew how invincible he is. He beat cancer, just not the way I expected.

Peace and love -


Monday, April 02, 2007

Fools Five: Supporting Team Justin

Article Link

By Rick Solem | Winona Daily News

LEWISTON, Minn. -- They were in it in strollers.

They have walked it, ran it and worked it.

This year, Morgan and Lacey Hennessy couldn’t take part in the 29th Annual Fools Five road race.

Not in Lewiston, Minn., anyway. Not even in the United States.

The sisters -- Lacy, 23, who graduated from Lewiston-Altura in 2002 and Morgan, 21, who graduated from St. Charles in 2004 -- took part in the Fools Five this year from Iraq and they did it in memory of their cousin Justin Kukowski.

From their military base just north of Baghdad, the Hennessy sisters raised more than $2,500 for the Fools Five, which donates its funds to cancer research.

The sisters were supposed to be home from Iraq already -- home for their cousin’s funeral; home to run in his memory.

"They have been there since last March," their mother, Karen Hennessy, said. "Now, their stay is extended until August."

So they couldn’t be in Lewiston, but the sisters were taking donations for the Fools Five and took part in Susan G. Komen 5k Race for the Cure on Saturday.

On March 12, their 27-year-old cousin Justin died of a brain tumor, which he was diagnosed with a year and a half ago.

Team Justin, however, was at the Fools Five. Family and friends, wearing orange "Team Justin" hats were scattered throughout the field of runners.

"There are about 20-25 of us," said Justin's father, Don Kukowski. "He always ran this race."

Justin was a man who lived life to the fullest, even after he was diagnosed with cancer.

"He was still visiting friends in New York, Colorado and Wichita, (Kan.)," Don Kukowski said. "Even though he was just 27, he lived life twice as fast. He did more in those 27 years than someone at 54."

He never let the cancer get him down or slow him down.

"He touched a lot of lives," Justin's uncle, Randy Kukowski said. "I know he made me a better person just by knowing him.

"He never lost his sense of humor despite going through what he did."

Kukowski was born in Shakopee, Minn., and graduated from Chaska High School before moving on to the University of Minnesota. He finished school at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a Mathematics degree.