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Jana's Call for Action

It is our hope, the family’s hope – that her life and her death are motivation for all of us to pick up her torch.  That her single torch is now being passed to all of us – one torch has now turned into 1100 torches – 1100 people seeking to make this world a better place – 1100 making a real difference.  It is now our responsibility to carry her work forward.  It doesn’t matter your politics, we can all find different ways to serve.  Most funerals celebrate a person’s life – and yes we do that with Jana.  However, that is not enough.  That is not enough for her family, and it is definitely not enough for Jana.  This ceremony is not just about honoring and celebrating Jana’s life – it is also a call to action.  On behalf of Jana, I ask you to serve.  I ask you to make a difference. 

Now please take a moment and close your eyes.  Let me ask you this question – are you doing all you can do to serve others?  In memory of Jana, ask yourself – what can I do to make a difference?  I now hand her torch to you.  Take your sadness and your anger and turn these emotions into positive energy for social change.  I ask you to make Jana proud, AND GO DO GREAT THINGS!”

Curt Brungardt – Jana’s Stepfather
July 9, 2008
Liberty Hall, Lawrence, Kansas

Carry on Her Torch

Torches have long been a symbol of hope, of peace, and of liberty.  Torches traveling from across the world light the Olympic flame that demands peace during the games.  The Statue of Liberty illuminates the port into New York Harbor where immigrants were greeted to the free world with her torch.  And to Greek and Roman funeral monuments, two crossed torches once signified the mourning of a loved one.

Jana Mackey carried the torch of many within her:  hope, peace, liberty, service, and most importantly a welcoming torch to all. On July 9, 2008, Jana's torch was passed to not just her friends and family but to the 1100 souls she touched who shared in the celebration of her life. Many of us felt a devastating sorrow for our loss.  While that part of us will never be fulfilled, we are each empowered to fill the world with the service Jana spent her life advocating.

Jana always reached for a better world.  She dedicated her life to possibility, and she was committed to all she met.  Her home was open to everyone who chose to visit, just as her heart was a safe house for any and all who needed her.  

The celebration of her life affected us just as she did, with a sense of energy and hope, and we were presented with an unparalleled opportunity to multiply Jana's life in her memory.  Our call to action is not just out of obligation, or charity, or patriotism, but out of a faithful dedication to her memory and the memory of others like her whose voices were silenced all too soon but can continue to speak.

We must be their voices that demand action, we must be their hands that work for change, and we must be their light that saves many from their seemingly inescapable darkness. 


Celebration of Life Speeches

Gail Agrawal - Dean of KU Law School
Laura Kelly -
Kansas Senator
Sarah Jane Russell -  Director, GaDuGi SafeCenter
Curt Brungardt - Jana’s Stepfather

Christie Brungardt - Jana's Mother

Kansas Flag
Typically reserved to honor fallen soldiers, fire personnel, and police officers, the State Capitol’s Kansas flag was presented to Jana Mackey’s family on July 9th.

One Torch Ignited
"The tribute was phenomenal, just as Jana was. But the funeral went beyond a tribute. Jana's step father spoke at the conclusion of the service and challenged us. He spoke not only about Jana, but also about how we could carry on Jana's legacy by 'picking up her torch'. He encouraged us to make an impact on the lives of others. He challenged us to find something that we cared about and make change. He challenged us to close our eyes, light our torch and carry the torch of making a difference in our communities, state, country, and the world forward. I was one at the funeral....one of 1100 torches that were lit that day. What a poignant difference Jana has made in my life. I have vowed to carry on the torch.”

-- Jill Arensdorf

Walking with the Wind

"It wasn’t long after I first met her nearly nine years ago, that I recognized a small flame that burned inside her - a flame that would later be defined as a passionate social activist. On the late afternoon of May 20, 2000, I sat across the dining room table from my girlfriend’s daughter – Jana Mackey (it was her high school graduation day). In addition to talking to her about going to KU, and her love for music and a potential career in that field –I found a young, dynamic person who had a deep desire to do more with her life than just self-satisfaction.
In the months leading up to her high-school graduation, we had many conversations about national and international politics – we would visit about important social issues, justice, and fairness – and most importantly our individual roles that we must play. On that day – at that dining room table – I gave her my graduation gift (last Sunday – and eight years later – I found that gift in Jana’s home) {display book}. It’s John Lewis’ book Walking with the Wind. (For those not familiar with this book, it is a inspirational account of this country’s civil rights movement.) Let me read to you what I wrote to her on the inside title page: “Jana, Find the courage to change the world – Good luck at KU.” Curtis Two years later, her passion for social issues was matched with the quality people of KU’s Women’s Studies Program, and a social activist was born."
Curt Brungardt – Jana’s Stepfather
July 9, 2008
Liberty Hall, Lawrence, Kansas


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