His Heart is in Middletown
Kevin Prefer grew up on Long Island and lived there until 2007 when he and his family moved to Middletown. He transferred to New Jersey with his job as a computer engineer. But Kevin’s passion is sports photography. He started photographing the Middletown Eagles youth football games. When his son Michael was in High School in 2014, he was photographing on the field at Middletown North football games. Shortly after, he was doing the same at Middletown South games. The players and their parents become like a family to Kevin.
He was asked to photograph lacrosse – for both boys and girls, then he added boys and girls basketball, then Girls’ softball games, field hockey and wrestling – and he does this as for both high schools and does not get paid for it. He loves to share the photos with the players and their families. He created a website, www.jerserypics.com where anyone can download their photos for free. But is small letters on this website, he asks for just one favor:
“Please help me help transplant children, like my beloved Christopher whom I lost in August 2015. Fund blankets made in Christopher’s honor.”
Kevin’s youngest son, Christopher was born without a bile duct. Christopher received his first liver transplant when he was only 2 months old. This was the first of several liver transplants. At age 10, Christopher experienced even more health issues, but this time would have to endure an 11 hour, multi-organ transplant surgery receiving a new liver, pancreas, colon, partial stomach and intestines, along with blood vessels connecting them.
By age 12, Christopher suffered complications from the donated organs and became very sick again. He spent his 12th birthday in the hospital (Mt. Sinai), the second consecutive birthday he had spent there. On August 6, 2015, Christopher passed. At his memorial, the head of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, said this about Christopher, “He faced the reality of needing this massive surgery with grace and courage, and a maturity way beyond his years. He got his inner strength from his family’s faith, presence, and love. Chris was desperately ill immediately following the surgery and several times since last May. Each time he survived because of the faith and love that surrounded him. He remained a courageous boy with a dry sense of humor. He was never bitter, never pitiful. He made good friends with other hospitalized kids, who will really miss him.”
Christopher received a Binkeez For Comfort blanket from the Ashley Wade Foundation while at the hospital and he loved it. Ashley Wade worked with Binkeez and designed the Christopher Binkeez LoveHug blanket. To honor Christopher’s life, Kevin worked with Binkeez and created a program for the Christopher LoveHug blankets for children who are organ transplant recipients. They work with 6 hospitals and provide 150-200 blankets per year with the money that Kevin raises for this cause.
Kevin wears a cap to help promote awareness. It reads, “Binkeez For Comfort – Love Forward.” Click here to read more about Christopher’s courageous fight- Christopher’s Story
Kevin also created two special awards, called Christopher Prefer Courage award, given to a High School North and High School South football player that has gone through a hardship or injury.
I asked Kevin some questions:
Q. Would you consider photography as a second career after retiring from his job?
A. “ I love sports photography. I don’t like placing people to pose for a picture, I like taking the photos on the sidelines of the player or cheerleader watching the game. I would love to do that for a living, but I never want to charge an individual for the photos I take of them.”
Q. What advice do you like to give people?
A. “Remember there is only ONE Middletown – not North and South. We are one community.”
Q. What is your favorite thing or something unique about Middletown?
A. “People – the kindness of the people in Middletown.”
Q. What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A. “I am legally blind in my left eye. It happened when my brother threw Play Dough at me when I was 4 years old. Also, I was diagnosed with cancer in my right leg 3 years ago. They removed a tumor and I underwent radiation. I am cancer free now and have full mobility of my leg.”
Q. What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A. “Middletown (I will never leave), Memories and Love”