My name is Kirsten Spink, I am Tyler Lee Spink's older sister. As many already know my brother, has been missing since Labor Day, 9/5/2016. We are preparing for him to be brought home in 2017. I last updated his story soon after we got the news about Tyler's accident. My family and I have been working hard to make a difference, a positive change. We have purchased and sold many awareness tees and sweatshirts, in hopes that this would be a good conversation starter. Among these we have incorporated statistics on drownings along with the plan of how to survive if drowning. I have heard it many times before, why do our kids not have the basic knowledge of water safety and survival? So many of us know the basics: stop, drop and roll, fire drills, tornado drills, active shooter drills... Once we stepped back from our loss, and set aside our grief. We battled through the frustrations to see what we could do in response to this tragedy. Loss is an experience that unfortunately all of us will experience at some point. We want to lessen the chances of another families having to battle this incredible heartbreak. Focusing our attention on what we can do as single individuals, mothers, fathers and grandparents to help prevent drownings. Life jackets are not a fashion statement but will be your only lifeline when/if you find yourself in trouble while enjoying our waters. Be sure to check the life jackets you have or that you might be carrying on your vessel, to be sure it is rated for the waters you are in. Tyler had no idea what he was facing by going out into the open waters of Lake Michigan. For years Tyler had kayaked but only in rivers. Breaking through educational barriers could have changed his chances of living with simple commercials or yearly educational tools in our school systems. This has help in other situations. Why not also with water safety? My words could never truly display how much love and support our family has felt from everyone! We need all the prayers possible! It has been a true blessing to see how family, friends, strangers, and acquaintances can come together to help our family while we are in such a dark place. Like I said once before losing someone is something we all know we will face in life. We all know that is inevitable but losing someone you may never get to say goodbye to or put to rest is heart-wrenching. We never imagined Tyler's last day with us would be Labor Day of 2016. After watching Tyler conquer so many obstacles, overcoming lifes battles He was tenacious, strong and never gave up on anything in life!! He had a beautiful spirit and soul. He was drawn to others that needed help and had a heart to reach out. This past year he bought himself a new car, was about to receive a bonus from a job that he felt could easily turn into a life career. Tyler and his longtime girlfriend of almost four years found an amazing new puppy. They all together made unforgettable memories and had many dreams to yet fulfill. Tyler may not have the chance to impact people in the ways we all wanted. By become a husband, father and grandfather but with perseverance and help along the way we can turn this tragedy into something meaningful with simple awareness and education. We are not giving up on finding Ty, we have many people such as Bruces Legacy who have committed in coming back in the spring, 2017 to continue the search. With that being said Keith, Beth (with Bruces Legacy), and Tom Crossmon that found the fishermen and the young boy in last fall's Lake Superior case all have offered their help with no additional cost to my family besides covering their expenses for the trip and supply's during the search for Tyler. These expenses include the following: Gas, food, motel, any equipment and search supplies In 2016 with donations that our family was so grateful to receive. We were able to keep Bruce's Legacy here searching for my brother for weeks, make awareness shirts and hoodies, make payments towards divers and equipment, as well as continuing to make monthly payments for Tyler's car loan, and car insurance. Bruce's Legacy spent hundreds of hours and many weeks giving their heart and soul in trying to find my brother, towards the end of our summer days in 2016. They were able to do this thanks to all of you! The only boat ramp to launch from is located in Frankfort, MI in order to get to Platte Bay where Tyler is currently. This makes it slightly more challenging at times but with experienced help it is achievable. We ask that you so kindly consider donating, it does not have to be much. Every dollar makes a difference. We would like to bring Tyler home in 2017 while helping make a difference in these statistics. The burden of recovering my brother has been left up to our family so sadly! For some reason not recovering Tyler is suppose to be just accepted... and that is a hard pill to swallowing. Knowing there are times when ongoing search efforts take place for those who's location is completely unknown. This is hard to put into prospective for us. I do not want to come across harsh, we just need the right kind of help. We have a good location set aside for our search with Tyler's cell phone satellite coordinates, kayak locations, PFD location and his friends pickup location. This is not like recovering a needle in a haystack as some who don't do this for a living may think. We need any and all help possible in recovering my brother! With all of this, getting experienced help from those that have done recovery for decades, finding Tyler is very likely. We all need peace and closure. Many have stated he will come up but at this point and after speaking to many recovery diving teams and experts, we believe where he is at rest is where he will stay, unless we get the help with the right equipment and manpower necessary! Please help us bring Tyler Spink home. For those who do not know the story yet. Tyler and a close friend began the day with a trip down river at approximately 12:00 noon. They floated down the Platte River for around 2 hours until they stopped on the beach only a couple hundred feet from the opening into Lake Michigan. With the kayaks already placed back onto the trailer to return home they decided to unload the kayaks after some time had passed and continue to kayak. So they put back in near the boat launch on Platte River. Tyler and his friend had no experience out in the open water of that Bay. It was a beautiful, calm day from where they had been standing hanging out for hours in the park with friends. They never realized how different open water can get the further out and later it gets in the day. Tyler's friend was about 20-25 feet ahead of Tyler when Ty had initially capsized. His friend then tried to turn his kayak around to try and help Tyler out. In the process of trying to reach my brother his friend then capsized. At this point both of them were struggling with what to do. My brother had his phone that was in a water resistant case on him so he tried to make a call to 911. Tyler unfortunately did not have service and couldn't not get the call to go through. After they both realized they were out of options as the kayaks were quickly being taken away by the waves. They decided they were going to head towards shore with their PDF (personal flotation device) in hand. Josh mentioned as they were swimming that they were fighting a strong current that was pushing them away from shore and that he was taking in mouths full of water. The two of them called back and forth to one another ever so often checking on each other. It didn't take long for them to lose sight of each other. The waves were only growing in size as they fought to reach safety. Tyler's friend said that Tyler stayed calm and was the one that motivated him to believe they could make it! By continually saying "We got this Bro". His friend said Tyler's belief and encouragement is why he survived! Swimming for what felt like about an hour his friend said it wasn't but a matter of a few minutes in between every call out to each other. My brother eventually stopped responding to Josh's calls out. His friend, once he no longer was getting a response, felt panicked and began calling out for help. After swimming about another 30 minutes, he noticed a light from what he believed was a boat and he felt that he was close enough to shore that if he yelled loud enough they could possibly hear him. Josh then was noticed by a fishermen and was thankfully rescued by him. Once being rescued, the fishermen made a 911 call in hopes to get help on the water for my brother. The fishermen said he had tried to find Tyler before heading up to shore with his friend but had no luck. At that time it was nearly 9:00 at night. We have been searching the beaches since that Tuesday early morning. We have recovered all 3 PFD's that the two of them had with them. One was in the kayak, one with his friend, and one out near empire bluff. The kayaks were found between Esch and Petterson Beach fully submerged in the water. His friends sandals have been also recovered along the shore. We also have very specific satellite coordinates from Tyler's phone. This narrows the search area down dramatically! We hope that this story along with our family's fight will help change statistics. Lake Michigan is the most dangerous of the Great Lakes. Sadly, growing up here, I never knew that. We are in high hopes to raise money most importantly to recover Tyler, cover funeral costs for my brother but to also help aid in raising awareness for the safety of kayakers, and further the education on prevention of drownings! Thank you so much for taking the time to read our story! "Goodbye's hurt the most, when the story is not finished"