ELIDA — Aug. 12, 2016, was a fateful day for the Elida community.
A pickup truck crashed along state Route 309 east of Redd Road in Allen County.
Jakob Sexton, 15, died in the crash, Drew Dulebohn, also 15, died the next day.
Both were students at Elida High School and members of the football team.
A makeshift memorial remains at the accident site in remembrance of the teens.
The accident left scars on the Elida community and disrupted the lives of several families.
The hashtag #ElidaStrong was used to solidify the community through the healing process.
Support flowed from outside the community and continues to this day.
“We have had so much support, not just from the Elida community but surrounding communities, cities, towns, states. It’s been national what we have received and what we have felt from everybody, between the monetary donations to prayers to hugs to the texts, phone calls, messages it continues even after a year past the accident it’s still ongoing. We are so blessed to be loved by our community and everybody involved and we want to pay that forward in any way we can,” said Cheryl Crites, mother of Jakob Sexton.
On Sunday, the community once again came together for the second annual #ElidaStrong Fall Festival.
Proceeds from the festival go to scholarships for youth.
“This is a positive community event where we can get the #ElidaStrong community together in a good way rather than all of us pulling together in tragedy,” she said. “They did an amazing job when it came to my son and Drew’s accident but we want to put a positive spin on it and have everybody out here for a good cause.”
The event included 50/50 drawings, a Kids Fun Zone, a silent auction and a Cool Car Cruise In in memory of Sexton.
Dozens of classic cars filled the parking lot at the Elida Fieldhouse.
War Wrestling was also there, providing a free show.
Several live bands also performed.
“We’re trying to it as much free stuff for the families and the kids that we can. The stuff you spend money on is what you want to spend money on, not what you have to spend money on. I’m really pleased with the turnout, but we couldn’t do this without all of the donations and the volunteer time from all of the vendors, the bands and friends and everybody involved,” she said. “Kindness wins.”
Reach Sam Shriver at firstname.lastname@example.org.