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Hazing death saves lives: Stone Foltz’s memory endures through positive change

Stone Justin Foltz lives on nearly a year after his death through a gift of organ and tissue donations, a fund supporting scholarships in his memory and a foundation calling for an end to hazing in his name. In the months since March 7, 2021, people came to know the kind of person Stone was as his parents, Cory and Shari; his siblings, AJ and Jersee; his girlfriend, Maddy Borja; and his friends in his hometown and college town shared his story.

A sophomore in BGSU’s college of business and a graduate of Buckeye Valley High School in Delaware, Ohio, Stone was active in his love for sports and style. As a former athlete on the BVHS baseball, basketball and lacrosse teams, Stone found friendship and belonging on the intramural fields at BGSU playing football and basketball. He was pursuing his dream of owning a fashion business through his studies at BGSU.

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Stone was a big brother. Not only was he known for looking out for his younger brother, AJ, and sister, Jersee, he also was a big brother in the eyes of his late best friend’s sister. In January 2018, a car accident took the life of his best friend Jacob “Jake” Richardson. Richardson’s sister Lexi posted about Stone while he was hospitalized and being prepared for organ and tissue donation.

“I appreciate everything you have ever done for me. When I lost jake you picked me up and never put me down. You will forever be my big brother,” her Instagram post read.

Stone was a loyal friend. In the wake of his death, his friends and loved ones shared how Stone was the type of person to put others before himself and show kindness to all those around him.

“He was the type of guy who would stand up for others and never faltered. … He didn’t do what was popular but did what was right,” Wade McKenzie, Stone’s roommate and friend, said at the memorial service held at BGSU last spring.

It is because of Stone’s big heart that his memory lives on in so many tangible ways. Scholarship funds raised by those who knew him as a close friend and those who only knew him through his tragic death alike through a GoFundMe page will go to students at BVHS. Events through the iamstonefoltz FOUNDATION serve to bring the message of intervention, kindness and never leaving anyone behind to schools. Individuals honored Stone’s legacy through donations, promises to speak out against hazing and other acts of remembrance.

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“Thank you for all youhave taught me in your life and death. No matter the time that goes by I will always miss you,” Borja wrote in an Instagram post on what would have been Stone’s 21st birthday, which she commemorated with a tattoo of his initials.

Across campus at BGSU, Stone’s legacy is evident. Protests, petitions and policy changes brought hazing to the front of the conversation while punishments were doled out to those who were involved in the hazing that led to his death. BGSU began taking steps to hold responsible students and organizations accountable for not only the incident that resulted in Stone’s death but any instances of hazing.

A year later, fraternities Delta Chi and Phi Delta Theta had suspensions extended for repeated alcohol abuse and other hazing charges, some of which occurred while the organizations were already under suspension.

Throughout Ohio, Stone’s story — as shared through his family — made countless people aware of the destruction that hazing can bring. The momentum created by the Foltz family, along with the foundation for anti-hazing legislation that began after Ohio University student Collin Wiant’s death, resulted in the passing of the Ohio Anti-Hazing Act. Collin’s Law makes hazing a felony and requires hazing education for college students.

“There are no words to describe the pain we have each day missing Stone. We love and miss you so much Stone! You continue to live in our hearts and your senseless death is helping others and saving lives. We will never stop fighting until hazing is abolished and will continue to spread our story on who Stone was,” Shari Foltz wrote in a Facebook post.

As everything Stone stood for lives on a year after his death through shared memories, charitable actions, anti-hazing policies and individual commitments to spread kindness to others, Stone will never leave those who love him. Last academic year’s Undergraduate Student Government President Harrison Carter expressed this sentiment at the memorial service held at BGSU last spring.

“As we grieve, I hope we can find peace in knowing that Stone will never truly be gone. Our connections and relationships we build here are what make us human, and the memory of Stone will not cease with his passing.”

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