Memorial website in the memory of your loved one

Zak lived life like he rode his ATV and played soccer, wide open, 110% and loving every minute of it.  He died racing his ATV at the Nationals down in Florida.  He died doing what he loved.  In his 16 years he experienced everything we could get him involved with.  He took Taekwondo for 4 years, played guitar, hunted, fished, raced ATV's, surfed, played soccer, football, basketball, track, and got great grades in school just to name a few.  Below you will find what a friend of mine read at Zak's Funeral Service...it sums up Zak.  He was mine and PAtty's best friend, our son and we love and miss him more than words can describe. I hope this site will give everyone a chance to share in his wonderful life and spirit. 

3-16-06

Remembering my buddy Zak “Hollywood” Griffin –
From one of his “old” friends, Tim Luther

I first met Scott and Zak online through the ATV community. Back then Zak was a really little guy with a really big grin. He was soooo pumped to be hanging out with his dad and his dad’s friends. We thought it was pretty cool too. We would often slow down so Zak could catch up without him knowing that was what we were doing.
Before long it was “I am keeping up better and you guys do not have to wait for me so much!” So much for being smarter than the kid!
Then it was Zak glued to the back of our quads on fast trail rides and soon it became “Yo, Hollywood, wait up for us old guys at the next fork!”

Over the last few days I have found myself trying to describe my buddy Zak to folks who did not know him, that could take days, but here is some of what I came up with……

To be 16…

To be 16 & Out ride your dad…
To be 16 & Still think your mom is awesome!
To be 16 & Brag about all your cousins…
To be 16 & Trust your best friends – All 500 of them…
To be 16 & Really look forward to spending time with your grandparents!
To be 16 & Like school…
To be 16 & Be in love- for real…
To be 16 & Eat macaroni & cheese with tuna and peas in it rather than a steak….
To be 16 & Have some friends older than your parents….
To be 16 & Have dinner after a race with your heroes…
To be 16 & Actually like having your shins kicked while stealing the ball from a friend…
To be 16 & Swim like a trout with a mission...
To be 16 & Be embarrassed to stand next to the cute girl handing out the trophies ……………since you were told to stand real close and you might get a kiss out of it…
To be 16 & Think your mom & dad are the greatest in the world, ……………….and know they are not the enemy…..
To be 16 & Know you are loved…
To be 16 & Know how to be a gentleman
To be 16 & Not be thought of by anyone who ever met you as anything other than ………………a truly great young man….
To be 16 & Be my buddy Zak….

I think God knew that this very special soul that would be Zak needed extraordinary parents and a phenomenal family. My hat is off to all of you for such a wonderful job of stewardship of God’s gift.

Based on that, I suspect one of the things Zak would want to say for himself today would be “Thank you all for letting me live such a full and wonderful life in just 16 short years.”

I have, as everyone who knew Zak has, really struggled with “why” this had to be over the last few days. “Why” is obviously not my job. We serve a God who measures the universe with the span of His hand. Therefore, I believe that taking care of Zak is in very good hands now. I truly need those same hands to comfort all of our hurting hearts. The agony seems at times to be too much……..

Hollywood, you took the holeshot and the checker both on me this time! Wait for me at the next fork and I promise I’ll catch up soon!
……………………………………………………………………………………….. TL

Scott called me today and asked if I could read a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that really sounds like it was written about Zak…

“It is not the critic who counts: nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory or defeat.”

Tributes and Condolences
Thinking of You   / Janeane Bricker
~ Thinking of your Handsome Son ~   / Melissa~ Mom 2. Micheal &. Michealah Scatto
~FOREVER IN MY THOUGHTS AND HEART~   / Cathy~Mom Of David Giraud (A Mom who Cares )
I am so very sorry for your loss, sending my deepest Condolences~May this New Year bring you comfort in the precious memories you hold in your hearts of Zachary, knowing that the day is coming, when God will wipe our tears, and life will last forever...  Continue >>
:)  / Kailen Stinchcomb (friend)
zak. i hope you know i miss you with every ounce of my being. i think about you at least twenty times everyday. i wish so desperately that you were never taken away. the things that you did get to accomplish and the memories we didnt get to make brea...  Continue >>
Looking Back...   / Adam Urbas (racing competitor )
I was just looking back on some of my racing days and I thought of Zak. I was only one jump behind him on the track when the accident happened and sometimes I just have to stop and think about how fortunate I am because I feel like I could easily ha...  Continue >>
Hey! / Donette (study hall buddy )    Read >>
Thinking of you  / Janeane Bricker (none)    Read >>
My bad  / The Nationals Down In Florida (homie)    Read >>
Always Remembered & Always Loved  / Janeane Bricker (none)    Read >>
HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN HEAVEN BABY  / Janeane Bricker (none)    Read >>
March 11, '06  / Aleks Fonseca (Nothing)    Read >>
love & go on.  / Annmarie Orig     Read >>
hi Zak.  / Donette Belizaire (knew him in school )    Read >>
Mothers Day 2007  / Cynthia Caruana (Another Angel Mum )    Read >>
You were always an angel Zak  / Janeane Bricker     Read >>
More tributes and condolences...
Click here to pay tribute or offer your condolences
His legacy
Zaks Myspace  
Zak's Myspace is still active..his friends still post there and we intend on keeping it online so anyone can leave him a message..I know he is reading it everyday. www.myspace.com/tripsurfer247
VCATV/Project Blaster/Kurt Deserio  
Kurt Deserio..long time sponsor of Zak has several pages dedicated to Zak including a page that you can purchase ZG23 merchandise.  Proceeds from the sell will go to the Scholarship Fund.  THanks KUrt and Paul..you guys are great.  www.factory7atv.com/F7zakgriffin.htm
Krista Marie wrote a song For Zak  
Krista Marie has a song out she wrote about Zak.  She was in Florida and witnessed the accident.  You can purchase the song at her website www.BurnLounge.com/KristaMarie.  Proceeds from the song will go to the Zak Girffin Memorial Scholarship fund.  You are listening to the song on this website now..she really summed up Zak and his spirit.  Also check out her Myspace page for other great songs and info.  www.myspace.com/kristamarie
AJC Announcement  
Death of student stuns Mercy High

By JAY STONE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/23/06
The desk sits in the front row in Room 214 at Our Lady of Mercy High School.

It differs from the other 25 desks in the room, which are devoid of any markings. This one has been turned into a shrine — part classroom furniture, part yearbook autograph page, all in tribute to its last occupant. 
Zak Griffin, a student and soccer player at Our Lady of Mercy High School, was a sponsored amateur ATV rider.

Mercy student Zachary "Zak" Griffin died March 11 in an accident during an all-terrain vehicle race in Newberry, Fla. Since then, the Catholic school of 270 students in north Fayette County has been coming to grips with the loss.

"I never saw him down," said Jacob Lecesne, his soccer teammate and best friend. "We get out here and kick the ball back and forth and talk about everything. I'll miss watching him play and competing against him."

The students decorated his desk. Some sentiments were light-hearted (there's a hand-drawn stick of Trident, his favorite gum), others were serious.

"You win!" one classmate wrote.

"I'm going to take care of our banana trees," says another.

"You're still the chewing gum champ," exhorts a third.

Summed up one writer, "You'll live forever in our hearts, minds and souls."

Dozens of those remarks now adorn the desk, which may be set aside in permanent remembrance.

The soccer team planned to retire his No. 18 jersey, since Griffin was the first Mercy student to die while enrolled there. Coach Bryan Sutlive said the school is considering a memorial marker at the football-soccer stadium.

Lecesne scored an early goal in the Bobcats' loss last Thursday to Sandy Creek, the team's first game after Griffin's death. Lecesne had wanted to wear No. 18, but Zak's dad, Scott Griffin, said the jersey could not be found.

Sutlive and Mercy girls coach Brian Williams painted a white No. 18 next to a red bobcat paw on the field, and the team will wear black armbands on the field the rest of the year.

"Whether you were a close friend of his or not, he was one of those kids you knew who he was," said Mercy athletics director Bill Schmitz.

Zak, the only son of Scott and Patricia Griffin of Palmetto, was remembered for going all out in everything he did. Some friends found solace that Zak died while doing something he loved.

A sponsored amateur who had risen through the ranks of ATV riders in three years of competing, Zak had swerved to avoid a rider in front of him and came off his machine before another one landed on him.

Scott Griffin, who was working Zak's pit at the time of the accident, said he was told his son died almost instantly.

Sutlive has found his role as coach expanded; he is now comforter for the team. Like many coaches, he chose the coaching profession without anticipating handling the death of a player.

"This wasn't in the contract," he said.

Added school chaplain, Father Paul Burke: "I never thought I'd have to bury a student."

Normally, Monday morning Mass at the school is sparsely attended, Burke said, but on March 13 it was full. Students arranged car pools so they could attend.

"The kids are just leaning on each other," Burke said.

The school welcomed Griffin's girlfriend, Jordan Kulwicki, to join in the mourning, and the Whitewater student wore Zak's away jersey to the Sandy Creek game.

"He was very outgoing," said Kulwicki, a relative of the late NASCAR driver Alan Kulwicki who died in a 1993 plane crash. "Zak loved being outside, and he did things 110 percent."

The tributes came from outside the school as well. The Griffin family received condolences from Zak's teammates with the Coweta Cannons, his club team. Scott Griffin said the crowd of about 2,000 people attending the ATVA/ITP/Moose Racing National Motocross Championship began donating money to the family. A hat was passed and fellow riders auctioned autographed gear.

In the first week, he said, they raised $14,000, which the family plans to donate to charity.

"There's got to be a reason this happened," the father said.
ATv Source article  
By: Terri Stevens
Photos provided by: Scott Griffin
ATV community’s outpouring helps family of teen rider killed at Gatorback
Zak Griffin #23
News of the death of Zachary Scott Griffin spread quickly throughout the ATV riding and racing community. Known as “Zak,” #23, the 16-year-old died in a tragic accident Saturday, March 11th, while racing in the Youth Production class of the ATVA/ITP/Moose Racing National Motocross Series Round 3 at Gatorback Cycle Park in Gainesville, Florida. Zak’s father, Scott Griffin, says before he could even make it back to the track from the hospital, a flood of sympathy and support began, and it continues today.
“It’s just astounding, the outpouring and outreach that the ATV community has done,” says Griffin.
As he prepared to return home to his wife, Patricia, in Palmetto, Georgia, Griffin says people at Gatorback offered to take his dog, race trailer and truck to his home while he flew back. A ticket was waiting for him at the airport, Griffin was told, and they would get him there. Another said he had a private plane waiting to take him home. Others offered to drive him.
“They didn’t care how they’d get back down to Florida,” Griffin says.
Against their urging, he decided to make the drive himself. Many of his friends from the Georgia ATV Riders Association heard about the accident, and his phone rang non-stop as he made the drive.
“They were making sure that I was making it home,” he said.
Zak Griffin with his collection of trophies.
On Sunday, Griffin received a call from friend Gary Cooper, who was at the race in Florida.
“He said, ‘Man, you aren’t going to believe what happened at the track.’”
An impromptu auction was held with items donated to raise money for the Griffin family. Helmets, tires, shocks, hats, t-shirts and more were offered and bought by those at the track.
“He said it was like a never-ending thing,” says Griffin. “People just kept giving. They’d buy it, then put it right back up for auction. It blew me away.”
Griffin said he was amazed that the people would come together like that. “Zachary was a Youth Production rider,” he says. “It wasn’t like he was a Pro that was out there and everybody knew him. These people didn’t know him, and they were reaching out.”
Griffin says $13,300 was raised that Sunday. Because they ran out of time, yet still had items to auction and more wanting to donate, another auction would be held the following weekend during Round 4 at Echeconnee Off-Road Park in Georgia.
Griffin felt compelled to personally thank those he could by attending the race at Echeconnee, even though driving through the gates was one of the hardest things he has had to do. His wife went with him, and was able to see the compassion from this racing family.
“It is a big family,” he says.
Every quad they saw at the race had a 23 of some form on it. “I’ve never seen so many 23’s in my life,” Griffin said.
A friend from Alabama had memorial shirts made for Zak’s friends to wear, and they offered one to national pro champion John Natalie Jr. Natalie communicated with Griffin through an ATV forum, offering sympathy and support, and spent about 30-45 minutes talking with them at the race. When given the t-shirt, Natalie offered to wear it during his sight lap, which he did. Griffin was impressed with Natalie’s kindness, and said Natalie had even auctioned his trophy at Gatorback.
Zak and Scott Griffin prepare for a race.
“He’s an astounding, well-spoken gentleman,” says Griffin.
Griffin also talked to a few other pros, including Joe Byrd and Keith Little, saying they were all “just great.”
Griffin says his wife talked with Debi Bartosek, whose son, Matt, died after a crash in the 2003 ATV Winter Olympics, also at Gatorback, and Debi gave her a pendant of an ATV with an angel on it.
All of the support is helping them get through these difficult days, Griffin said. “It’s helping us heal a little bit.”
Griffin says he does not have a total from the auction at Echeconnee yet, and he was only able to say a few words of thanks to the crowd.
“I had to keep it short and sweet,” he said. “I could feel the lump coming up in my throat. I just had to walk away from the auction. I was seeing someone pay $150 for a signed t-shirt, then turn around and give it right back.” Then someone brought two pit bikes and someone else said to auction them off.
“I thought they were joking,” he said,” and the guy was like ‘that’s why I brought them over here.’”
Although medical and funeral expenses are beginning to come in, Griffin said they want to try to put the money raised back into the ATV community, and are considering ways to do so.
Griffin says he will still go to a few races, but will probably be more active in cross country now than motocross. Each year he races the Maxxis Six Hours of ATV America in Georgia, and has raced a few hare scrambles and GNCCs. Although too young to race the GNCC, Zak did get the chance to participate in last year’s six hour race. Excited about the new age limit, Zak tried to find a team to race with him.
“None of the other kids wanted to punish themselves for six hours,” says Griffin, “so he was kind of bummed out.”
Regardless, Zak went to pit for his dad’s team. While there, some friends told him to grab his gear because they had a ride for him. Griffin said Zak was excited, and wanted to know who he would be racing with. He was surprised to find out it was ATV legend Donny Banks.
Zak Griffin, #23
Since he had not brought his own gear, Zak borrowed pants that had to be held up with a rope and a jersey so large the cuffs were taped. About the only thing he had of his own were gloves, which happened to be in the truck.
Griffin says Donny Banks ran a few laps, then Zak, then Donny.
“When he comes back in, he says ‘Zak, I’m sorry Bud, but it’s yours from here on out.’” Banks had a sick child at home and had to leave. “Donny was like, ‘Here you go, Bud, do me proud.’ And Zachary pretty much maintained the position. We figured he rode about 100 miles straight, and didn’t lose a position.”
“Team Bulldog” took third in the B class and seventh overall.
“The bad part about it was he beat my team by three minutes,” Griffin laughs.
Griffin says Zak started riding ATVs about six years ago, and after they became friends with multi-GNCC title winner Mike Penland, he helped Zak with riding techniques.
Zak got a Yamaha Blaster and wanted to compete, but was too young to race cross country, so he joined Georgia’s ATV motocross series in 2004. Most of the year was spent learning about motocross and the world of differences between it and cross country racing, but Griffin says Zak was consistently placing in the Top Five.
“He probably would have done better if I would have had a faster learning curve,” he says.
Toward the end of 2004, Project Blaster agreed to sponsor Zak and offer the help they needed. In 2005, he won the GMQA Championship in his class. He tried a few nationals without much success. Most of the national Youth Production front runners were riding Honda 300EXs, so Griffin bought one and started fixing it up. Zak then became part of Team VCATV.
Griffin says he does not regret allowing Zak to race.
“The time I’ve spent with Zachary at the tracks, going to the races, wrenching on the quads together, cleaning the quads, getting excited when a new set of tires comes in or a new set of graphics, wondering what we can do to make the quad better, faster, whatever it is” Griffin says. “I wouldn’t trade those times for anything in the world. Traveling six hours to a race, and the stupid things you talk about in the car, and you laugh, and take bird baths out of a cooler at the track, just stupid things, they were great times.”
Through various ATV forums, hundreds, if not thousands of people have expressed sympathy to the Griffin family. In addition, the Griffins receive about 50 cards each day from people from all over the country.
“Some kid put 50cents in a card and sent it to us, and said that was all he had left out of his allowance,” Griffin said. “We appreciate all of the help and outpouring that the ATV community has given us. Just tell everybody to keep us and Zachary in their prayers. It’s going to be a tough time coming.”
The Southeastern Quad Racing Community offers information about sending messages and donations to the Griffin family through its website at http://sequads.com/forums/thread/3147.aspx. The Griffins had asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to charities including the Lance Armstrong Foundation, of which Zak was an advocate. His grandpa, Scott’s dad, is battling cancer, and Zak had “GP Live Strong” on his quad in his honor.
Zak Griffin, #23
As the Griffins only child, Zak lived a full and what must have been very busy life in his short 16 years. In addition to racing and riding ATVs, he served as co-captain of the soccer team at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School, plus played nationally with the Coweta County Cannons Select Soccer Team. He loved to play the guitar, and often did so in the evenings at the track after a race. He won a state championship in Taekwondo, and placed in a couple of surfing competitions. He also liked skateboarding and wakeboarding, hunting and fishing. He had a multitude of friends, many who have commented on his perpetual, contagious smile, and in an online bio he stated that his heroes were his grandpa and his parents. No doubt, the memory of Zak Griffin, #23, will live on.
More of his legacy...
 
Zachary's Photo Album
zak_crowd
Jump To:
Go to Album >> Open full-screen Slideshow >>
Transfer Photos into a Hardbound Book >>

Bring the memories home by publishing your online memorial as a genuine hardcover keepsake