On July 4, the Clifton Park community will come together once again in support of the families affected by the December 2012 Northway crash that killed two Shenendehowa students, Clifton Park Town Supervisor Philip Barrett announced Monday.
The town’s Independence Day celebration, its largest event of the year, will include a fundraiser for Shen Memorials, an organization that celebrates the lives of Shenendehowa students who have died.
Funds raised at the event will be dedicated to charities meaningful to the families of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, the students killed in the crash, as well as to charities chosen by Matt Hardy and Bailey Wind, the teenagers who were injured.
For the fundraiser, half of a firetruck owned by Collision Experts in Clifton Park will be painted with chalkboard paint.
The truck will be parked in the Clifton Common during the Fourth of July festivities and in exchange for a donation, people will be able to draw on the truck. Collision Experts will match donations up to $2,500.
The company will also donate 50 cents for every “like” its Facebook page receives on July 4, up to $2,500.
“I really take this charity to heart because I had a brother who was killed when he was 19 and have a 17-year-old daughter that just graduated this year, so it hits home that way,” said Shenendehowa graduate Richard Bowman, owner of Collision Experts.
The fundraiser was announced during a week when many local high schools are holding graduations, a particularly poignant time, since all of the students involved in the crash would have graduated this year.
Chris Stewart’s mom, Regina, reflected on the upcoming Shenendehowa graduation: “It’s definitely not what we were expecting, that’s for sure. We’ll be accepting his diploma for him this week. We would prefer to sit in the audience and cheer for him and all of his classmates, but that’s not what’s playing out in our world.”
Chris’ father, Mike, said the July 4 fundraiser’s timing is ideal.
“To have something after graduation, and still see everybody out there, and knowing that the kids are still on people’s minds, that’s very special,” he said.
Bailey Wind’s mother, Dawn, said her family has the funds needed to cover her daughter’s post-crash medical expenses, so their portion of the funds raised July 4 will go to the charity of Bailey’s choosing.
“I think what’s most important, at least for us, and I know that I feel it from the other families, is keeping Chris and Deanna alive. That’s our life now, because we don’t want to let go of them. They were two incredible kids,” Dawn Wind said.
Matt Hardy’s mom, Patricia, said her son’s medical expenses are taken care of too, so their portion of the funds raised will likely go to the Sports are for Everyone program, which helps disabled children engage and compete in recreational sports. Matt has been volunteering with the program on Saturday mornings, she said.
“Deanna was all about children. Both of them together were planning on going to get degrees in education and that was their dream. They were all about kids and I just think that doing special things in Deanna’s remembrance is what this is all about for us,” she said.
A portion of the funds raised at the event will also be donated to the St. Colman’s School in Watervliet and the Deanna Rivers Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Clifton Park’s Fourth of July party will kick off with a parade at noon and will end with fireworks at dusk. In between, there will be rides and entertainment in the Clifton Common on Vischer Ferry Road.