It was a beautiful fall evening in October of 2010 when our lives suddenly changed forever.We could never have prepared for the tragedy that occurred on this annual camping trip with close family and friends. While our 16-year-old son, Kyle, was playing flashlight tag in the woods, a large and heavy tree branch fell on him from nearly 40 feet in the air. Kyle’s mom, a nurse at Edward Hospital, initiated CPR on Kyle. Despite the assistance from all of the friends that were there they were unable to help Kyle. It was obvious that he had sustained severe injuries and was quickly transported to a local hospital. It did not take long to determine that Kyle had a traumatic, life-threatening spinal cord injury. He was then transported by Life Flight to a trauma center in Chicago where doctors confirmed our worst fears. We were informed that despite all the efforts given to save Kyle that our handsome, healthy boy had suffered from a lethal spinal cord injury and artificial means of life support was needed. Never again would we feel the warmth of his hug or hear his “goodnight Mom and Dad.”
Kyle blessed us on August 8, 1994 with a loud cry and big, beautiful brown eyes. From the minute he was born, he was so loved and so full of life. It didn’t take long for Kyle’s personality to emerge. He was full of smiles and adventure. His imagination was huge, which gave us lots of laughs and stories to tell.
Kyle was always full of imagination. The videos we have of him using his huge imagination will be priceless memories. Some of Kyle’s favorite Disney movies included The Lion King and Jungle Book. Playing Simba and acting out his favorite Lion King character, Scar, to the tune of “Be Prepared” are fond memories. Kyle’s big plastic elephants were always marching around the coffee room table to the tune of the “Colonel Hathi’s March” from the Jungle Book. His biggest venture into the world of imagination was when Kyle transformed into Copper. Copper was the dog from Fox and the Hound. Kyle’s love for dogs began at a very young age. We had to pet him, put his food and water in bowls on the floor and even walk him on his leash. As he grew up and left his life as a dog, he took on a new role in his life. The role of a sports broadcaster.
Kyle was a Junior at Neuqua Valley High School and loved sports. He played on the volleyball team, he refereed baseball and basketball games, and had aspirations of becoming a sports broadcaster. He was a member of the Wildcat Weekly News program.
Kyle was a brother to Kristen, a son to us and a true friend to all. He was a very proud fan of the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs. His infectious smile, his handsome face, his love he had for his family and the Montana Mountains will carry with him forever.
Through his untimely death Kyle became a HERO. Kyle Shines On!
Nearly 200 of Kyle Zuleg’s family members and friends came together for a campground dedication ceremony June 4, 2011 at Messenger Woods Nature Preserve.
The Forest Preserve District of Will County Board passed a resolution that renamed Messenger Woods Hawks Hollow Campground the Kyle Zuleg Campground as a memorial tribute to Kyle and to honor the years of enjoyment the Zuleg family experienced camping at various Will County preserves.
The dedication was led by Rev. Ted Weitzel, formerly of St. Raphael Catholic Church in Naperville.
Cory Singer, president of the forest preserve board, presented Kyle’s parents, Matt and Jill Zuleg, with a framed copy of the resolution.
While a tragic accident took Kyle’s young life, what endures is the limitless impact that his presence had on all of those who were fortunate enough to have known him, the plaque reads in part.
The memorial plaque is posted at Messenger Woods on the campgrounds grove marker. The plaque includes a photo of Kyle. A park bench, also dedicated in Kyle’s memory, was placed a few feet away and faces the plaque.