Alice Campbell Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
One month after the sudden death of 9-year-old Kellen Lund that shook the community, family and friends gathered at the viaduct for a poignant memorial service. It was an event "we just wanted to make it for the family," said Candi Anderson, mom of one of Kellen's friend's, Dylan Krezelak, before the ceremony. "I love that kid so much," she said. And the support was appreciated by Jeri O'Leary, Kellen's mom, who said the community has been very supportive. "We appreciate all they have done for us and with us," she said. During speeches and musical tributes, candles in cups, decorated by fourth-grade teacher Dan Wirtzberger’s and fifthgrade teacher Joel Hagen’s classes at Sunnyside Intermediate School, waved in the dusk. "They say that time is a healer," said Janet Nordrum, a relative, but continued to say that the crowd gathered still grieves. "We're here to say that we know you're hurting," she said. Anderson shared that "some days, I think it is not real," but she celebrated Kellen's life instead of still being angry, like she said she was after the initial shock. Matt Springer, who played several songs for the ceremony, said, "It's my honor and privilege to play here in honor of Kellen." Nordrum recited a poem to express that even though a child might by taken before his time, "you'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief." Halley O'Leary, Kellen's aunt, also performed a song, while Kellen's friends gathered in a circle with the candles illuminating their faces. "Love to Kellen," cousin Bobby O'Leary said after he played his guitar, and cousin Tamera O'Leary echoed his sentiment when she said, "I love you, Kellen," after leading those gathered in "Jesus Loves Me." Kellen's friends presented Jeri with a necklace charm imprinted with Kellen's thumbprint and engraved with a special message from Kellen's friends, which resulted in hugs all around. The ceremony ended with a recitation of the Lord's Prayer, but the family still needs support with their ongoing struggle brought about when Kellen was hit by a grain truck while walking his bicycle across the street at a busy intersection. "We just need to keep remembering the family," Anderson said. Despite the solemnity of the occasion, the memories were happy ones. Dylan Krezelak, Ryan Bakke and Tim Bergren all remember his favorite team was the Seattle Seahawks. More important, "he was really nice," Dylan said. Sharon May remembers how much fun Kellen had with his friends. "The boys just all ran together," she said after the ceremony. Sandy Anderson remembers when Kellen and Bobby carried the offertory plates in church one Sunday. They were "so happy to be together, and they were so proud of themselves," she said, which made her happy. Elinora O'Leary, Kellen's great-grandmother, remembers him as being smart and sweet, and Vickie O'Leary, his aunt, remembered "he was just a sweet, smiley little boy." Her son, who loved football, was talented and good, was "taken way too soon," Jeri said. "He was a great kid," she said. "He always did everything right. That day, he was doing everything right as well." No charges have been filed in the case initially handled by the Havre Police Department and turned over the Montana Highway Patrol.