MARSHALL - Friends and family of Reed Stevens gathered Saturday afternoon at the Lyon County Fairgrounds to remember a young man with strong faith who touched so many lives.
In 2009, Reed's Run was started as a memorial to Stevens, one of the children who died in the 2008 Lakeview School bus crash. This year marked the fourth and final one.
Reed's mother, Kandy Noles Stevens, said it was the original intention to have the run for a certain number of years.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Runners take off for the 5K race Saturday evening at the fourth and final Reed’s Run at the Lyon County Fairgrounds.
"We were only going to run the run the four years Reed would've been in high school," Noles Stevens said.
Half of the Reed's Run team are Reed's classmates, who are seniors this year, Noles Stevens said.
"We wanted them to go out and take a piece of Reed with them and touch the world," Noles Stevens said.
In the last four years, Reed's Run has grown, organizers said.
"This year has been the best of all, people don't want to miss out," Noles Stevens said.
As Noles Stevens looked at the bustling crowd of people who were looking at silent auction items, registering for the 5K run/walk or the dog walk, she said her son has touched a lot of lives in one way or another.
"And that's a life to be proud of," Noles Stevens said.
And if you didn't know Reed before, the run was a way to find out all about his life, said Linda Van Uden and Gail Gregoire, who have supported Reed's Run all four years.
"The Stevens family is just an amazing family," Van Uden said. "When a tragedy like this struck them, we all got together."
"It's grown because more people are learning about it," Gregoire said.
"It's a good cause, once you get to know Reed's legacy and what he was about," Gregoire added. "It's not just another 5K, it's a family event."
Funds raised at Reed's Run, along with a few other small events, are used in the Reed Stevens Memorial Fund. The places that the funds have been used focus on the three Rs: remembering Reed, reaching others for Christ and raising funds for scholarships. The three main programs are the Reed Stevens Memorial Scholarship, Let Your Light Shine, where students can ask for financial assistance for mission trips or missionary work, and the Reed Stevens Legacy program through Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls, S.D. As of this year, 20 students have benefited from the Let Your Light Shine fund.
"His faith in God was just tremendous," Van Uden said, adding that she hopes her faith would be half of what his was.
"(We should) embrace that legacy that Dan and Kandy are sharing, it's more about who he was and is," Gregoire said.
Businesses and individuals donated everything from pictures to handmade items to gift certificates for the silent auction, Van Uden said, which was one item shy of 1,000 items. Other events that night included the movie "Facing the Giants" and Jesus Painter Ministries.
The original goal of the Reed Stevens Memorial Scholarship was to raise $20,000, Noles Stevens said.
"I think we're gonna make it," she said.
One of the students who received a scholarship, Mickel Goepferich, is attending the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, studying to be a speech pathologist.
"Reed would be so proud to see you all here and support the family," she said. "It's just so beautiful to me." She and Reed were "4-H buddies," Noles Stevens said.
Reed's best friend, Kayla Anderson, said that it's awesome to see all the support and how the event has grown.
"For me, it's a mix of my school life and my church life," she said about the run.
The runners took their mark, and Reed's youngest sister, Cloie, sang the "Star-Spangled Banner." A sense of excitement filled the air for one last run.
"This day is so much bigger than Reed," Noles Stevens said.