But no matter their speed or competitive intent, Saturday’s participants gathered amid a festive atmosphere with all the trappings of a celebration. Children ran and played together before and after the race, adults chatted and shared stories, and familiar songs boomed through a loudspeaker. Some danced, some hugged, others wiped away tears as they remembered the loved ones who had brought them there.
Balloons drifted skyward while local pilot Jeff Elsner, a friend of Don Horan, flew high above, gathering aerial photos of the celebration. Far below, there was nary a face without a smile, hardly a moment without the sound of laughter.
At the request of the Horan and Butz families, all proceeds from the event will be donated toward the building fund for a brand new St. Mary’s church as well as the elementary school that opened last fall. The Horans and Butzes gave countless hours of their time to church and community events and were integral in helping make the new school a reality.
As their family and friends took in the spectacle Saturday morning, there was little doubt in their minds that those whose memories were honored that day were there in some form.
Kristy Lowe’s opening speech prior to the start of the race told the crowd their friends were looking down from Heaven’s golden streets, watching over all.
“And if you knew Don Horan,” Lowe said, “You know there’s a legion of angels walking with us today.”
Lowe recalled the events of the foggy December night in which the Horans and Butzes were lost in a plane crash for a small group of reporters, describing it as “a night that forever changed our lives.”
In the time since, the victims’ family and friends have rallied in support of the two young men and four young women who lost their parents that night, and have sought ways to ensure Don, Barb, Stephen and Denise will never be forgotten.
Saturday’s run appeared to be the culmination of eight months of effort aimed at doing just that.
And the faith that guided the Horans, Butzes and those who loved them was visible at every turn.
“They just had huge hearts and were very giving people,” Kristy Lowe said. “I know the four of them are up there, smiling down on us.”
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056