BMX benefit honors the lives of local family killed in crash

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By Cassia Catterall Gillette News Record

Haden Everts (No.1) waits at the starting gate before leading a silent lap with some 50 other racers behind him Thursday at Razor City BMX in Gillette. Haden’s sister Halie, 20, her husband Aaron Godinez, 20, and their three-month-old daughter Tessleigh died in a car accident in Mead, Colo., on June 3. The crash also claimed the lives of Aaron’s mother and father. Photo by Ed Glazar, Gillette News Record.

BMX benefit honors the lives of local family killed in crash

 

By Cassia Catterall

Gillette News Record

Via Wyoming News Exchange

 

GILLETTE — The entire crowd was silent as Haden Everts slowly began his trek downward from the starting gate at the Razor City BMX race track.

The words from MercyMe’s song “I Can Only Imagine” echoed around him as he went up and over the jumps and around the berms of the dirt track. He wore a white jersey with a golden number one on the back, which was decorated on either side with sunflowers and red roses.

At the bottom of the jersey were the words, “In loving memory: Halie, Aaron, Tessleigh.”

Sunflowers were Halie’s favorite flower.

Red was her husband Aaron’s favorite color.

About halfway through the lap, nearly 50 other riders joined in a wave of helmets, tires and emotion as they followed the path Haden laid out.

In the crowd, tears spilled and sobs were heard as everyone took a moment to stop and remember, coming together as a community and family.

As the last bikers made their way through the lap and the final strands of the song came to a close, silence again swept over the track.

On June 13, Haden’s sister Halie, 20, her husband Aaron Godinez, 20, and their three-month-old daughter Tessleigh died in a car accident in Mead, Colorado. The crash also claimed the lives of Aaron’s mother and father.

In the hush of the track and the stands, the reminder of the five who were lost traveled through the memories of everyone gathered.

Thursday was the first time Haden had been back on the track since the week before.

“This was the last place I actually saw her,” he said. “It’s hard coming back.”

He pointed to a seat in the grandstands.

“She was sitting right there.”

On Thursday, Halie’s family sat in the stands, watching and appreciating the community around them.

“It’s been amazing,” said her mother Desiree about the outpouring of support the family had received. “It’s been overwhelming. There are amazing people in this town.”

Halie worked at the track’s snack shack for two years, and Haden has competed in races for the last eight years. During that time, the Everts family became a part of the much larger BMX family.

Lacey Mielke, one of the volunteers on the BMX board, said that families in the sport started reaching out as soon as they heard news of the accident. To help, Razor City hosted the benefit where all proceeds from the race, 50/50 raffle and dinner went toward supporting the family.

She motioned toward the crowd as she talked about the people who had donated, helped or reached out to see what else they could do for the family — they all had.

“When one falls, we have everyone there to pick them up or at least do what we can to help,” Mielke said.

Some in the crowd, like Ron Schabot and Julie Baysinger, had never been to the track before. Close friends of the Everts family, they came to support and enjoy the camaraderie of the racers for the first time.

“It’s been incredible,” Baysinger said.

As the family sat in the stands waiting for the races to begin, memories of Halie popped up in unexpected ways.

On all of the raffle tickets that had been circulating at the track, the number 22 stood first and foremost on each ticket.

“That’s nuts,” Desiree said as she examined them.

“Halie wanted Tess to be born on 2-2-22,” Desiree explained. “And their funeral was yesterday, which was another 22.”

From now on, there will just be something about the twos, she said.

In the days, weeks and years moving forward the memory of those lost will continue to make their presence known. But for now, Desiree only asks for one thing from the community that has helped them through the unbelievably difficult time: prayers.

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