Alumnus’ Parents Establish Endowment, Lobby for Texting and Driving Ban
Philip Sorensen leaves behind a legacy of kindness, caring and awareness.
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“Phil had an infectious smile that could light up a room. He was loving, kind, thoughtful and selfless. He enjoyed life’s smallest and biggest moments. He influenced the people that were around him to be better citizens, to live simpler and find joy in the little things of life.

He was killed in July 2012 due to someone texting while driving. In his compassion for life and helping others he gave the gift of life as an organ donor. We want to continue his love of helping others in establishing this scholarship in his honor.” 
–Terry and Cleo Sorensen

Last July, Cleo Sorensen received a phone call no mother wants. It was from Avera McKennan Hospital & University Center informing her that her only son, Philip, had been injured in a serious accident on Minnesota Avenue.

“I had no idea that Phil had ridden his cycle that day, I had no idea what was going on because I didn’t have the news on so I didn’t know a horrific accident had happened at 26th and Minnesota Avenue, or I would have probably assumed that’s where he was.” Her husband Terry was traveling for work and was six hours away when Cleo called him and asked him to come home.

They later learned that a 20-year-old man driving 50 miles an hour down Minnesota Avenue while texting had caused an accident that affected five cars and Philip, who was driving his motorcycle.

For the next agonizing day, the Sorensen’s prayed for their son’s recovery. Terry remembers, “We met with the doctor but he had nothing good to say,  the impact was just too much. We knew what the outcome was going to be.” The evening following the accident at 11:59 pm Philip’s parents pronounced him dead and allowed his organs to be donated.

Today, Terry and Cleo are working to continue Philip’s kindness by establishing the Philip Lowel Sorensen Memorial Scholarship Endowment at Southeast Tech as well as lobbying for a state-wide texting and driving ban. “Phil was always a giving person and this is one way we can help other kids in his memory,” shares Cleo.

Always a kind and giving individual, Philip was an organ donor. He helped three critically ill individuals by donating his lungs, heart and liver. His parents consider it a miracle.

Ironically, Philip rarely texted, preferring to speak to his friends and had the mantra of ‘take your time, it will still be there'.