By: Deanna Rebro | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: November 2010
Tom Lane and Phyllis Lewis of the T.C. Lane “Make A Difference” Foundation invite victims and survivors of violent crimes to remember their lost loved ones this Christmas season.
Some come with tears; others come with a token of remembrance. They all share one thing. They all lost a loved one to a violent crime or action, and they want to honor their loved one at Christmas time.
The second annual Creek County Tree of Honor and Remembrance lighting ceremony for victims and survivors of violent crimes will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30 at the Creek County Courthouse, 222 E. Dewey Ave. in Sapulpa.
Every family member who has lost someone through violent crime is invited to place a personalized Christmas ornament on the 12-foot Christmas tree illuminated with 1,300 lights. The Creek County Court Clerk donated the tree. A memento or anything that has meaning to the individual or honoree, and is appropriate for hanging, is welcome. The ceremony in Sapulpa began last year through the efforts of the T.C. Lane “Make A Difference” Foundation.
The Christmas season is difficult for families who no longer have their loved one. Tom Lane, a Sapulpa attorney, and his wife, Dr. Nanette Lane, understand the feeling. On Christmas Eve in 2003, a drunk driver claimed the life of their 22-year-old son, T.C. Teachers at Stetson University in Florida, where he was enrolled, said T.C. was destined to become a leader. Some said he had what it took to become the president. The soon-to-be political science graduate had a deep-seated belief in making a difference in people’s lives by inspiring through positive example. All his life he wanted to help others become the best people they could be.
Tom, Nanette and T.C.’s older brother, Trevor, picked up his efforts, and in 2007 formed the T.C. Lane “Make a Difference” Foundation. During the year, “Make A Difference” provides laptops for promising leaders through various programs and takes its message of “learn, serve and lead” to local schools. According to Phyllis Lewis, Tree of Honor coordinator, they make extra effort to reach children and youngsters who may be at risk through little or no quality family life. “We want to teach kids that the choices you make shape your life,” she says. “We want to steer them on the right path.”
The Lanes thought the Tree of Honor, first established in 1996 to remember the Murrah Building bombing victims, was an idea worth repeating throughout the state. Four years ago, the ceremony began in Tulsa. Last year was the first for Creek County. Phyllis recalls how they were overwhelmed with the response. At best, they expected 25 people. One after another, people kept coming in, until approximately 75 were assembled. Many of them stopped to express their appreciation for help in healing and for support from others who understood their pain. A much larger number is expected this year.
All ornaments will remain on the tree throughout the holiday season for future viewing. Then they will be packed safely away until next year, when they will once again be hung on the tree.
Tom’s goal is to work with the district attorneys in each of Oklahoma’s 27 judicial districts to establish a Tree of Honor. “One of our main objectives is to create future leaders and eliminate violence,” he says. The Tree of Honor and Remembrance calls attention to what could have been, but because of a person’s bad decision, never will be. But even in the face of tragedy, there can be some good, something positive to live by.
Anyone who is unable to attend the ceremony can still include a loved one to remember. Call Dayna Cloyde with the Creek County District Attorney’s Office for details at (918) 227-6342. For any other questions, call Tom Lane at (918) 224-1982.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.