Kellen Lund loved nothing more than a sunny summer day. It meant he could spend the day with his friends — laughing, listening to music and riding his bicycle around his hometown of Havre.
In 2009, Kellen’s life was cut tragically short when he was struck by a grain truck while walking his bike across the viaduct at the intersection of 1st Street and 7th Avenue. Kellen was 9 years old.
The accident weighed heavily, not only on the hearts of Kellen’s family and friends, but on the close-knit community of Havre itself. In the days and weeks following his death, the family received an outpouring of support from the community, according to Kellen’s mother, Jeri Zorn.
“People I didn’t even know were sending cards and donations,” she said, “I still have hundreds of cards from people.”
Saturday more than 300 people, some traveling from as far away as Idaho, gathered at Pepin Park in Havre to celebrate Kellen’s memory and to promote driver awareness and bicycle safety at the Fourth Annual Kellen Lund Memorial Bike Ride. With the help of family and friends who volunteer their time and money, Zorn organizes the event every year as a way to both honor Kellen’s memory and continue to raise awareness about driver and bicyclist safety in an area where large trucks and machinery often share the road with pedestrians of all ages.
To an onlooker, Saturday’s event may have resembled a birthday party or family reunion.
The park was filled with people of all ages, wearing T-shirts featuring a smiling Kellen holding his guitar. The youngest participant was Kellen’s little brother, Cole Erickson, just 7 weeks old. He sported a onesie with the memorial logo as well. Zorn was certain he’d join the ride in the coming years.
Across the gazebo hung a banner with the words “Wish You Were Here” — the words have a double meaning, Zorn said.
“Kellen loved classic rock,” she said, “He knew every word of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here.’”
Zorn also has the words tattooed on her wrist.
Following registration and a quick bicycle safety review from Roger Gruber, owner of Havre Bicycle, participants of all ages lined up at the start line. Two routes — a 5 mile and a 3 mile — wound through the tree-lined residential neighborhoods of Havre, with neon-clad volunteers at each intersection to help direct traffic and assist riders. The groups included everything from tricycles and training wheels to sportsters and mountain bikes. Some people walked or pushed strollers.
Dylan Krezelak and Bobby O’Leary are two veterans of the ride. They were also two of Kellen’s closest friends. The boys agreed that Kellen would have enjoyed a day like Saturday. Krezelak, whose family now lives in Helena, said that the ride is something he plans to do every year.
“I look forward to it,” he said.
After all riders had returned to the park, participants enjoyed a barbecue while listening to music provided by Holden’s Hot Wheels. Eight brand-new bicycles were given away at that time, and the winner of a raffle for a Fender Stratocaster guitar was announced. The money from the guitar raffle is used to provide a scholarship for free music lessons to students.
For a few hours this weekend, Pepin Park was filled with joy, laughter and a sense of community. Children and their parents gathered on a sunny day to ride and remember.
For Zorn and her family, the event continues to be a way to heal and to remember Kellen, whose athletic and energetic spirit was a distinct part of Saturday’s ride.