Thomas Crawford’s life revolved around children — his own beloved two, and “countless” others who have benefited from his national fundraising efforts.
Crawford’s death on Sunday in a mountain biking accident in Utah has caused families throughout the Valley to mourn the Gilbert man.
“When the kids found out about this on Sunday afternoon, we invited them to our home to pray for the family,” said Susan Stenson of Gilbert.
“The front part of our house was just packed with kids.”
Stenson’s daughter, Alaina, 17, attends Valley Christian High School in Chandler, where Crawford’s son Spencer, 17, will be a senior and his daughter, Jessica, 13, will be a freshman in the fall.
“He always opened his home to all the kids.,” Alaina said of Crawford.
Crawford’s wife, Tammy, also served on boards and did fundraisers with her husband. The couple’s 20th anniversary was Wednesday.
Crawford, 51, was the founder, chairman and CEO of the Gilbert-based Leadership Network Corp., which owns and operates leadership conferences for executives in the restaurant and convenient store industries.
Once beginning the company 11 years ago, Crawford began the Leadership Children’s Foundation, which during the past decade has donated $2 million toward charities including Childhelp USA, Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, Joslin Diabetes Center, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“He wanted to changes people’s lives for the better,” said Jon Lewis, the executive vice president of marketing and technology for the Leadership Network Corp., and a friend of 17 years.
A viewing is scheduled 6 to 8 p.m. today at Falconer Funeral Home, 251 W. Juniper Ave., Gilbert.
A memorial celebration will 2 p.m. Saturday at East Valley Bible Church, 1820 W. Elliot Road, Gilbert.