Hundreds of friends, family, former patients and, well, fans of Stephanie Drevlow O’Rourke will gather Sunday, Aug. 30 at Hanover City Hall for a celebration of life, and to battle a good cause, as the Stephanie Drevlow O’Rourke Benefit is held from 4 to 9 p.m.
It’s not the scenario anyone really expected. After all, Steph was supposed to be here. After being diagnosed with a form of leukemia in late July, Steph’s prognosis was good. But complications from the treatment suddenly robbed this community of one of its promising young stars, and Stephanie passed away Aug. 10 at the age of 40.
“Obviously, the focus of Sunday’s event will be much different with her gone,” said her father, Lauren Drevlow. “But Steph was a ‘have fun’ kind of person. So that’s what this will be. When friends get together it’s easy to get into that mode of sharing laughs over stories and memories, to reminisce about the good times. That’s what she would have liked.”
Lauren and his wife, Nancy, as well as Steph’s siblings, have been lifted up by the support of the STMA/Hanover community, which has been “so helpful” since Steph lost her battle on that morning, leaving behind two daughters, Avery and Addie, ages 10 and 11.
“People have just shown up [at the house],” Lauren said. “You get together with people and you hear so many stories, it’s helpful in a time like this. Otherwise, you sit, things get quiet, and you can go to that darker place. And that’s not what Steph would have wanted.”
Solutions Counseling owner Craig Rens remembers Steph as one of his first hires here in St. Michael. Since bringing her on, Steph was vital in making Solutions a community member, reaching out to youth groups and schools to raise awareness for mental illness and the resources available for kids, adults and families.
“She had more clients and connections than anyone in our office,” Craig said. “It’s a huge loss. I think it says a lot about her that she was able to reach out and connect with so many people here in a relatively short amount of time.”
Colleagues will miss Steph’s laugh, and … well, her shoes, Rens said.
“You could hear them clopping on that hardwood floor,” he added.
“She was a shoe kind of person,” Lauren added.
As a mother, Stephanie was dedicated to being there for the girls’ every event. Soccer was a huge event, and Steph made every game, Lauren said.
“We made almost all of them” Lauren added. “She didn’t miss. We got to know the parents on the teams very well, and through them the community. Steph loved it here. We had/have been looking to come up here [from Plymouth], too.”
Sunday’s event will be family friendly, Rens said, as Steph worked with “many families and kids.” There will be dozens of items up for auction and plenty of prizes for games. A meal will be served at 5:30 p.m.
“The hope is to establish something so Steph’s legacy lives on,” Rens said. “What that will be, we aren’t sure. But the idea is to keep her spirit alive.”
“We always kind of thought of Steph as our little secret,” Lauren said, remembering how special and spirited the family believed his daughter was. “Turns out it wasn’t a very well-kept one. She touched a lot of people along the way.”