In loving memory of my most beloved son

Tommy "Chip" McKenna

May 2001 - June 2019

"I didn’t personally know Chip, but I saw him around. He always had a smile on his face, as did the people around him." - a comment on one of the articles written about Tommy/Chip in NJ Herald.

My beautiful son, Tommy "Chip" McKenna passed away on June 3, 2019 after a very brief battle with ANCA-Associated Vasculitis.

My heart is shattered.

I will never understand why this terrible, terrible thing happened to him.   Even when we were told he had this rare condition, there was never any discussion that he would die from it.  Particularly within 3 weeks. 

Tommy went in to the hospital May 15, 2019. Turned out that he had kidney failure.  After more tests we found that he had the rare auto-immune disease, Vasculitis, but I was told that it was manageable.  While it was likely that he could not go into the Marine Corps, he could have a decent life.

Tommy died June 3rd.  Two and a half weeks after he first went into the hospital. The last 18 hours of his life were excruciatingly brutal. He was not conscious, I truly hope, but his death was extremely gruesome, and I saw my son die right in front of my eyes. 

Tommy was always full of joy and was so funny.  His classmates said "he made everyone else seem boring" and "he made them look forward to going to classes he was in" because he always made them laugh.  But his humor was never at anyone's expense - except, maybe his own.

Tommy was so smart - scored a 1370 on his SAT with no test prep.   AP Physics was his favorite class.  He even made a physics rap video with his friends.   In his last months he mobilized a chess tournament.  His boundless enthusiasm had him sign up about 50 kids to a tournament, when they didn't know anything about chess.  The other kids got caught up in his 


But he was never arrogant.

Tommy was also a very loving and affectionate son.

Tommy/("Chip" to his friends)  died 13 days after his 18th birthday - which was spent in the hospital -  and 2 weeks before his high school graduation.  

His friends and classmates were absolutely stunned by this death. These teenage boys wrote me lovely notes about how much Tommy meant to them.  They came and visited me and told me stories.  I asked them to be pall bearers, and they were all amazing.  So respectful.  He had such a great group of friends.  I view this as a reflection of my son.

Now I just need to learn how I can possibly live with this devastating loss.      I am so lucky to be his mom, and am so proud of him.

See latest article from the NJ Herald here

See article from the NJ Herald here.

See additional article from the NJ Herald here.

See a tribute video here.

This page is a very small sampling of Tommy, his friends, and the joy they had for each other.  


Tommy and James, Men In Black

Hockey banquet 4-2019

Filming diner review while at hockey game in trademark suit.

Not sure why Jake is giving Tommy $1.  But they sure look happy.

Sparta Classic Diner review - with two football players.  Tommy sure was handsome.

I love this picture.  It captures him perfectly.  It's a screen shot from his Chip Challenges #3 video, where he and his friends try to "pick up babes at the mall".   Before any feminists get upset, you should see that it is a very self-deprecating video.  The first girl he approaches calls him a "f*cktard".  He did not edit this out.

In Chip Challenge #2, Tommy/Chip and Jake see who can eat the hottest wings fastest.  It was 19 degrees when they filmed this, sitting on a frozen lake.  Brrr.

U.S. Marine Corps pictures

Swearing in as a "poolee"

Tommy is in the light blue shirt

The poolees worked out with recruiters

Tommy signed up to join the Marine Corps right out of high school.  Not my first choice, but I came around.  Particularly since he could go to college free!    He trained with the Marine Corps his entire senior year.  It meant a lot to him.    

His friends have all gone off and are US Marines now.  Semper Fi!

“Tommy made everything fun!”

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Lenape Valley Regional High School - Stanhope, NJ - the school community was absolutely amazing in honoring him.


"You made everyone else look boring"

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"I'll never forget that time you spent the whole period reading bible verses to me"

Both Lenape Valley and Newton High Schools "wore red for Chip"


More hockey fun!

We have started a scholarship in Chip's memory.   Currently limited to seniors at Lenape Valley Regional High School in Stanhope, NJ, we are offering a contest.  As Tommy and his friends loved making videos, we are asking that students submit videos detailing why they should win!

I am forming an official 503(c) so future donors will be able to make tax-deductible donations.

Follow us on the Facebook page for upcoming events!

The videos

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Why did this terrible, terrible thing happen to my son?

Tommy touched many lives

I am so blessed to live in a community that has come together to honor his memory.  God Bless Byram, NJ!

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