On Aug. 18, Missouri student Timothy "Kelly" K. Needham died following a two-car collision in Minoqua, Wis., on Aug. 13. Fellow Missouri student Hannah Cusack had known Kelly since the third grade and shares her memories of her lifelong friend below.
Kelly Needham has always been and will always be my best friend. We’ve been through everything together, literally, from chasing each other on the playground in third grade, to awkward junior high dances to running on the cross-country team together in high school. As the years went by we only grew closer. Our last two years of high school we were almost inseparable.
The time came when we had to start thinking about college. Kelly was on top of things, applying to schools all over the place. I, on the other hand, was unsure and even a bit lost when it came to my plans for the future. After school one day we were chatting and he said: “Hey, go apply to Mizzou right now. I just did and the application isn’t too hard.” Easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, before we knew it we both had received our acceptance letters.
On Feb. 14, 2008, along with his mother and grandmother, Kelly and I made the 4 hour drive from Peoria, Ill., to beautiful Columbia. I remember that weekend as if it were yesterday. After seeing the campus we were both sold. So that was that, we both said our goodbyes to friends and family in Peoria and said hello to what would be our home away from home for the next few years.
I’ll never forget my first night of college. My parents had just left and I sat alone in my room crying while my crazy roommate awkwardly ignored me. Kelly called and said he already had plans for us for that night, no surprises there seeing as he made friends with everyone instantly. After a (not so) wild night in the Stafford dorms, he walked me back to my dorm when out of nowhere we got caught in an infamous Missouri monsoon.
Being the gentleman he was, he gave me his sweatshirt to protect my hair from the rain, what a keeper. We talked all night about old times, future times and the crazy adventure we were just beginning together at Mizzou. My first semester of freshman year was the best time of my life, and I owe it all to Kelly. He always allowed me to tag along with him; he had an effortless way of making me feel special and, best of all, made me feel that I was an important part of his life.
It’s really rare to meet someone that makes you feel comfortable enough to share your real thoughts with and to act your true self with. Kelly was the rarest of friends and could never understand just how much he has helped me and inspired my life. He will always have the most special place in my heart. Some of the people I met that first night out in college are my roommates and still great friends of mine today, and without Kelly, I doubt those connections would have been made. I can say that about almost every friend I have, and I’m sure a lot of others could say the same.
Kelly brought people together. That is one of the many things he was great at doing. He may no longer be physically present on earth, yet he’s still bringing people together. That is a testament to what a truly special person he was.