CRAWFORD | Louisiana flood hits LeFors' childhood home; effort - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Louisiana flood hits LeFors' childhood home; effort under way to help his parents

Posted: Updated:
Christian Academy football coach Stefan LeFors (WDRB photo by John Lewis) Christian Academy football coach Stefan LeFors (WDRB photo by John Lewis)
The LeFors home during recent flooding in Louisiana (courtesy of Facebook) The LeFors home during recent flooding in Louisiana (courtesy of Facebook)
The LeFors home from a childhood picture of Stefan LeFors. The LeFors home from a childhood picture of Stefan LeFors.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There's something special about the house you grow up in, and if you lose it, you can feel a little bit like you've lost a piece of yourself.

Every once in a while, in the days that have followed the Louisiana flood that claimed the home of his parents, Larry and Susan LeFors, Christian Academy football coach and former University of Louisville quarterback Stefan LeFors seems to remembered another moment from the home his father built 34 years ago and where he and his brother spent their entire childhoods.

The home held even more meaning, perhaps, for LeFors. Those who know his story -- and around here, everyone knows it -- know that he grew up as the only hearing member of a deaf family. Larry LeFors built the house to accommodate such a family. Its floor plan was wide open, since yelling from room to room was useless.

Just about everything on on the ground floor of the 1 1/2-story house was lost. Even things they moved to higher ground were lost after the Amite River crested several feet higher than expected, and higher than anyone could remember it rising.

Living two miles away from the river, the LeFors family couldn't buy flood insurance. The couple learned of the impending storms while in Louisville, and LeFors got home after his team had scrimmaged in Elizabethtown on August 12 to find his parents packing “with kind of a sense of panic.” The rain in Louisiana had already started, and they were hearing that there was a danger of flooding. They were able to move quite a few things to higher ground before being forced to evacuate, but still lost just about everything, including cars, photos, furniture -- even a large collection of baseball cards that belonged to the Stefan and his brother.

HOW TO HELP: The GoFundMe page to help the LeFors family is here

Before getting ready to coach his team on Tuesday afternoon, LeFors talked about the home, and about the efforts made by the Christian Academy community to help his parents. A GoFundMe account has a goal of reaching $100,000. It already has raised better than $14,000.

“It didn’t really hit me right away -- the biggest thing was, mom and dad are safe, nobody got hurt,” LeFors said. “But then the days pass, and you just think about the back yard where we had so many memories of playing football and neighbors coming over and playing basketball and baseball. Doing so many things in that house. In our living room, because my dad built the house . . . it was the perfect (size for a) basketball court inside. My parents let us do it. We put a rim on the side of a wall and me and my brother went one-on-one all the time, to the point where it drove my mom nuts because we’d break things left and right, so she put a stop to it. You just think about things like that.”

I expected to hear LeFors talk about how tough it was to lose mementos. And he said, his mother is hurting over photos or things she had saved being lost. But he said the biggest things now flooding his mind aren’t the things that were lost, but the memories that have washed up.

“My dad was so active and handy, everything there he did himself. He would never call anyone,” LeFors said. “I just think about him putting in all that work, and helping him sometimes. We put in a fence with a post-hole digger -- he wouldn’t let us go rent an auger -- digging all those holes with my bare hands and all the hard work he put into it. Those are the kinds of things that hit me from time to time.”

Isn’t it interesting which things stay with us, which things we truly value? They’re probably not the things we thought they would be at the time. LeFors remembers fishing on that river, and playing around on jet-skis. Those times in his childhood when it spilled over its banks were fun for LeFors and his brother -- they’d get in boats and explore. But this flood, which now ranks as the worst U.S. national disaster since Hurricane Sandy slammed into the east coast in 2012, was different from any that came before.

Larry and Susan LeFors, like much of Louisiana, are going about the business of cleaning up. Having evacuated, they didn’t know the state of their home until they happened to see someone broadcasting a Facebook video of their street.

“And there at the tail end of the video was their house, and the water was pretty high,” LeFors said. “They couldn’t get back there for two more days.”

Being deaf makes some things a bit of a challenge for them. As organizations like FEMA begin to come to offer assistance, communication is a little more difficult than it would otherwise be. And with no flood insurance available to them, the material loss alone is devastating.

Tim Greener, superintendent of the Christian Academy School System, approached LeFors to ask him if he would mind the school making an effort to do something for his parents.

“To what level, I never would have imagined,” LeFors said. “The calls, emails, notes, the amount of support overall both from CAL and former classmates and teammates at U of L, so many people have called wanting to help. And my parents are so appreciative. It feels good to be loved. It means a lot. I didn’t expect it. When our athletic director, Brian Morgan, pulled me off to the side and said, ‘You’re family and we feel like we want to do something,’ I felt touched.”

LeFors’ parents told him to stay in Louisville to coach his team, but he admits, it’s not easy.

“It’s been tough, because it’s on my mind all the time,” he said. “Football helps take my mind off it. But the main thing is I know my parents are healthy and they’ll be all right. I think they’re doing fine. My mother is more emotional, sometimes. My dad is a guy who just sees a situation and starts to clean up and fix up what he can.”

LeFors doesn’t know what they’ll do next. He said there’s not much family left in Louisiana, and that they might consider moving to where his brother coaches in Florida, where there’s a strong deaf community. He expects they’ll spend plenty of time in Louisville, as they always have.

LeFors was the guy who ushered Louisville into its first era of mega-success. Had he not gotten a concussion during a big game at nationally-ranked Miami, the Cardinals might well have won there. A year later, after he graduated, Louisville won the Orange Bowl.

The life he lived in that house, helping his parents to communicate, learning from their interactions, was a big part of the football player he became. Cardinals’ coach Bobby Petrino said he felt they had an edge going into hostile environments with LeFors, because he was used to operating without needing to hear.

Anyone wishing to help the LeFors family can visit Christian Academy's GoFundMe page here.

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

  • Sign Up for the WDRB Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.