Save the Storks Stork Bus is perhaps the most unique part of our pro-life ministry. With every Stork Bus individually named, each one has a unique story of HOPE and LIFE. Here are the stories of two different lives that inspired the naming of our “Michael Kolbe” Stork Bus.
When Eric Kniffin and his law firm took on the Supreme Court Case defending Hobby Lobby(2014) he was already a pro-life advocate courageously representing religious liberties. He and his wife, Bonnie, had recently moved to Colorado Springs and had their 6th child, Michael.
Doctors diagnosed Michael with lissencephaly, a severe congenital neurological condition known as “smooth brain”. Michael’s condition left him nonverbal, nonmobile, and legally blind. “But his heart was perfect,” his parents and 7 siblings agreed! Their family faced many challenges on this beautiful journey (with court cases and caring for Michael – receiving medication 10x per day). There was also great peace and joy as they surrendered to the will of God. Michael passed away on the feast day of the Holy Family on December 31st, 2021 at the age of 9. His family hopes that his witness and life will bring glory to God.
The Kniffin family attests that “Michael’s gentle spirit created a safe space. Especially when his brothers and sisters were having a tough day. Cozying up next to Michael set the troubles of the world at bay. No one was better than Michael at keeping secrets.”
Although Michael had profound limitations, he had a beautiful ability to draw the best out of other people,” the family remembered. Michael’s laugh was magnificent: “Michael reserved his biggest laughs for the smallest things, which made his joy all the more wondrous: the way light sparkled off an iridescent posterboard, the feeling of a string brushing across his forehead, or the sound of wind chimes. …Finding ways to make Michael laugh was like a puzzle that his siblings were always thrilled to solve.”
Kolbe Raphael’s Story
In the summer of 2020, in the midst of a national pandemic, Trent and Jennifer Denman suffered a tragic loss. They suffered from the miscarriage of their 4th son, Kolbe Raphael. With such isolation blanketing the world at that time, this pain of loss was magnified. Trent confided in his friends that he had a burning desire to do something epic to honor his son, Kolbe.
While the community mourned the loss of Kolbe, the Denmans reminded all that life is precious and even the smallest child has infinite value and matters! The heroic witness of the Kniffin and Denman families inspired Luke Vercollone, National Partner Manager at Save the Storks. He set off to search for a way to bless them and honor their children for the countless lives that they touched. Luke attended both funerals and the powerful impact of these short lives moved him. During prayer in the church at the Michaels’ funeral (the day before the March for Life in DC), Luke resolved to make a request to Diane Ferraro, CEO at Save the Storks. He asked if she could honor these two local, pro-life heroes by naming a Stork Bus after their sons.
The “Michael Kolbe Stork Bus”
Receiving the “naming rights” to a new Stork Bus is not easy, but Diane was incredibly receptive and supportive of this idea. She gave the green light right away and put the plan in motion. In October of 2022, “The Bishop’s Respect Life Dinner” took place at the Broadmoor Hotel. In front of 1,000 passionate pro-life attendees, Luke, on behalf of Save the Storks, honored (and completely surprised) the Kniffin and Denman families with the “Michael Kolbe Stork Bus”. This bus is NOW being delivered to the Women’s Care Center in Eyrie, PA. The “Michael Kolbe” bus will empower moms and save babies for ages to come!
What a powerful way for the heroic witness of the Kniffin and Denman families to impact LIFE for generations! I’m convinced that Michael and Kolbe will be watching over this bus and smiling down from heaven with radiant joy!