by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A large turnout of friends and family of the late Kelsey Daulton gathered for the first annual Forever Young Fun Run on Sunday at Meadowvale Elementary.
Among 315 registered runners (and walkers) were dozens of teammates and school mates of the Elk River and Anoka-Ramsey soccer star who died last Thanksgiving at age 19. The parents of many of those youths were also on hand.
“What we really want to emphasize is to get more information out about mental illness awareness, and how people who need help should speak out,” said Kathy Daulton, Kelsey’s mother, who addressed the gathering before the race.
Noting that the T-shirts included a cartoon of a rat, Kathy said, “Kelsey, as you know, had a fondness for rats. She said they were sweet, but so misunderstood. It’s the same way with people who have emotional issues.”
Alex Drongeson, a close friend, strummed his guitar and sang “Forever Young” at the request of the Daulton’s. His heartfelt rendition of the Rod Stewart standard echoing the theme of the race left many in the crowd misty-eyed. There was also a balloon release in her memory before the race.
Emily Ecklund, soccer teammate and best friend of Kelsey’s, led all the women to the finish line.
“That was so cool, to see Emily do that,” said Kathy Daulton.
Cole Konczol, 2013 ERHS graduate, was the overall winner of the 3.1 mile run through Woodland Trails.
The event was hosted by Kathy and Scott Daulton and Kelsey’s sisters Brittany and Logan. Kathy said they definitely intend to make it an annual event.