Blu Stephanos and Carly Black walked along the Jupiter Inlet Wednesday where their son, Austin, and his friend, Perry Cohen, headed out fishing last July 24, never to be seen again.
Blu told me, “ I don’t know if it will get easier, you know, to be honest. First thing I think about in the morning and when you lay your head down the last thing you think about. I don’t know if that will ever change.”
Carly said, “I mean he was only 14, (but) it was like we grew up together. We were young when we had him and he’s been a very huge part of our lives for a very long time. And that is something you don’t ever forget, you never get over it.”
Grief has no end for a parent who loses a child, but Blu and Carly also spoke to me about their boundless love and pride for Austin. Blu said, “How do you sum up the greatest thing in your life?”
A community came together in the days and weeks after Austin and Perry disappeared -- searching, praying, embracing their families.
“We owe it to each other,” Blu said, “we owe it to Austin, we owe it to the community to do something with this.”
And so they have by starting the AustinBlu Foundation. Their work prompted state lawmakers to offer boating registration discounts to boaters who buy location beacons for their vessels.
Blu and Carly added that the foundation has already helped 300 children complete boating safety classes.
Carly said, “It is all very important and coming from this love we have for our child who is no longer here. Now he is smiling down on us, and he is proud of us, and he loves what we are doing because this is what he loved.”
Austin’s motto, Carly said, was "never give up." His parents are heeding that call. She concluded by saying, “I will always call him my angel baby and now he really is an angel. He is going to protect us and look over us and keep us safe.”