Forget-Me-Not run remembers classmates

Soldotna High School's class of 2002 held a memorial run Saturday as part of its 10-year reunion. The Forget-Me-Not 5K was held to honor two members of the class of '02 who were killed in automobile accidents.

Abby Verhelst died in a car accident in Kent, Ohio in 2006. She was 22. Cody Burman was struck by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle in Savannah, Ga., in 2010. He was 27.

Race director Haylee Donovan said, "They were both big parts of so many of our lives and we want them to be remembered, not only by us, but by the community."

Money raised from the 5K was divided in to scholarships set up at SoHi in honor of Verhelst and Burman. Deserving seniors at SoHi receive the scholarships annually. This is the first year the scholarship has been set up in honor of Burman.

"In order to incorporate our class, the community and raising money for those scholarships, we came up with the idea of a 5K run/walk.  We decided to just base the race on donations instead of having a set fee. We also had T-shirts made with the 'Forget-Me-Not 5K' logo on them," said Donovan.

When race directors Donovan and Brooke Bloomfield set up the race, they only expected about 50 people to show up. But nearly 70 people had already pre-registered before Saturday.

"We had such an amazing turnout, with 91 racers and over 100 people involved when you include all the amazing volunteers," she said.

Donovan also gave a lot of credit to Verhelst's mother for her help.

Local businesses donated coffee, tents, signs and portable bathrooms. Most of the advertising for the race was done online. Donovan said that racers even came from out of state to take part in the race after finding it online.

"It turned out to be a great day to remember two great people while getting out and being active in the community. We are thinking this could be an annual event," Donovan said.

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