Shane LaBarge

The Day the Music Ended

Music filled the LaBarge household. Roger would choose from his vast collection of “vinyl” and play songs from the ’60s and ’70s, creating an ongoing soundtrack for life with his family—wife, Janet, and sons, Shane and Brett.

His family reveled in his music and the relaxed vibe that Roger, a photographer by profession, brought to family life in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. All that ended, however, when Roger died of a heart attack brought on by undiagnosed heart disease at age 56.

A family that had once enjoyed a comfortable middleclass life was suddenly faced with mounting financial worries. Calls of sympathy from family and friends were replaced by calls from the mortgage lender, credit agencies and utility companies.

Sadly, Roger died with no life insurance. That meant Janet, who was out on permanent disability at the time, had to struggle to make ends meet for herself and Brett, who was in junior high. Shane, who had just started college, was forced to rethink his plans. He worked an internship and a part-time job at a retail store so he continue to afford his studies.

Challenges continue

In the two years since Roger died, the family has managed to keep the home they lived in, but continue to be challenged by their financial obligations.

Shane is determined to finish college and to move on to law school. He’s also passionate about sharing what happened to his family. His advice to other families who are unsure about needing life insurance: “We were just like you. This happens to people like you every day—just as it did for us. You don’t want your family to have to live with the consequences of not getting life insurance.”

You can help students like Shane make their dream of a college education come true by donating to the nonprofit Life Lessons Scholarship fund. Donate here.

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