He was ‘just an all around great kid’

Published 11:40 am Thursday, June 9, 2011

Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com Brothers Kyle and Kevin Dammen are the organizing force behind the the second running of the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Ski Race to be held Jan. 23 at the Nature Center. -- Herald file photo


He was a successful, passionate young man. That’s what the people who knew him remember most.

Kevin Dammen, a sophomore at Winona State University, ran cross country in high school and college; he was also involved in the Austin community, according to Julie Champlin, Jay C. Nature Center assistant.

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“The friends and staff at the Nature Center are heartbroken to hear the news of Kevin’s passing,” Champlin said.

Champlin worked with Dammen and his twin brother, Kyle, as they organized the cross-country ski race at the Nature Center the last two years.

“Kevin’s generous spirit was truly evident in his volunteer efforts to put this race on for two years for the community with the proceeds supporting the nature center,” she said. “It’s hard to talk about one (of the twins) without mentioning the other. They were such a team. They were mature young men who wanted to take on these types of activities and give back to the community.”

Champlin also worked with Dammen in early childhood programs when he was a young boy. Watching he, his twin brother and their sister grow up was fun for Champlin, especially when she got to work with them on the ski race.

“We so appreciated their volunteer efforts,” she said. “We want to extend our sincere condolences to the family, because he truly will be missed.”

He’ll be missed at Winona State University, where he joined the cross country team last fall.

“Kevin had an adventurous spirit and enjoyed doing anything out-of-doors,” said Neal Mundahl, Winona’s cross country coach in a statement. “He will be deeply missed by all members of our team.”

Winona’s cross country team will dedicate its next season to Dammen’s memory.

Dammen will also be remembered for quite some time in the Austin running community.

“He was just an all around great kid,” said Tony Einertson, Dammen’s high school cross country coach.

Einertson found out about Dammen’s death Wednesday shortly before noon. He wasn’t surprised to find 40 students and runners gathered at the Austin High School track Wednesday night in remembrance of Dammen.

“He’s certainly going to be missed by a lot of people,” Einertson said.

“He was such an athlete,” Champlin said.

To Einertson, Dammen was an enterprising student, who started a business with his brother to buy electronics, fix them up and sell them again on eBay Inc.

“That was one of his passions, was figuring out why something didn’t work and making it work,” Einertson said.

Dammen was an incredibly caring individual, always looking out for others, always generous.

“He was going to be a very successful young man, and it’s tragic, what happened,” Einertson said.