BY BARBARA ANNE GREENE
The second annual Brendon Laird Memorial Benefit will be Saturday, June 4 and like last year, the event will kick off at McFadden Ranch at 10 a.m. with a memorial ride. The dinner and dance will be at the Greybull Elks Lodge starting at 5 p.m.
Brendon passed away June 6, 2014, after being in an automobile accident. He would have graduated from Greybull High School in 2015. His parents, Andrea and Mike Laird, made the hard, but loving, decision to donate his organs to help others. Six people’s lives were changed.
There was a huge outpouring of tributes and donations. A fund was set up at Big Horn Federal to help pay for medical costs. When Mike’s insurance paid all the medical bills, he said, “It didn’t feel right for us to benefit.” They took those donations and created a fund to give scholarships to seniors from Riverside and Greybull high schools.
“Brendon was so giving and kind hearted. We wanted to do something to honor him and to help the kids in this area. There are events that help others; we wanted this to specifically help the youth. He wanted to go to college be a welder so we decided to do vocational/ag type of scholarships. To cover anything that is hands on … teachers, nurses, welders. Those type.”
Part of the rationale is also to encourage kids to get a higher education and better the community.
At last year’s event, there were 41 horse riders, one runner and three walkers for the memorial ride. Approximately 275 people came to the dinner and dance that evening at the Elks. The memorial raised $25,000.
In 2015 Greybull seniors Chai Durfee, Christopher Ogg, Elizabeth Dietrich, Karlina McIntosh, Jessica Whetham and Colten Flitner received scholarships from the memorial fund. There were no applicants that year from Riverside High School.
Applications for this year had to be in by April 15.
The Lairds said they received applications from both schools this year.
Whetham went to Casper College to study elementary education with a minor in early childhood development. She is hoping to get an endorsement in special education. She said, “I felt so privileged to get the scholarship. It gave me that much more incentive to work hard and do my best to accomplish my goals. Brendon was such a go-getter, and anytime I would get discouraged, he knew just what to say and do to give me that extra push and get me motivated.”
McIntosh just finished basic training at Fort Sill, Okla. One of her photos on Facebook said “Karlina McIntosh with Brendon Laird, together we made it” It was followed by three heart Emojis.
Asked about what getting the scholarship and Brendon meant to her, Mcintosh shared, “
“Brendon was an amazing friend to me and a great role model. Receiving the scholarship was an honor, but it was also the hardest scholarship for me to apply for. At first I felt like I’d be taking money from the family and I didn’t want that, I wanted Brendon back instead, but eventually I got past that and realized that Brendon would want (my classmates and I) to do well and go out to do great things in the world, so receiving the scholarship encouraged me to stay on track and do well not only for myself but for him. It’s what he’d have wanted! To see me and my fellow classmates doing our best.
“He’s been a huge influence in many people’s lives. Not only while he was still here with us, but even in his absence. In fact, I just recently graduated Basic Training and I’m currently training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas to be a combat medic. I’ve got 15 weeks left before I get to come home, and I know I would not be here if it weren’t for Brendon. I carry my heart stone for him in my uniform every day. Trent Metro also just graduated from Basic, yesterday actually! I believe it’s safe for me to speak for the both of us when I say Brendon was there every step of the way getting us through any and every obstacle. Brendon will never be forgotten and he’ll be always with me. I miss him!”
This year there will be three ride options this year: one, five or ten miles. All the rides will start and end at the McFadden Ranch. There will be a free lunch afterwards at the ranch. Registration is at 9 a.m. and the rides will start at 10 a.m. The cost is a donation.
At the dinner and dance there will also be a live and silent auction. One of the items is a beautifully engraved Henry Silver Boy 22 rifle. It is engraved with “2016 Brendon Laird Memorial, Hoof Beats in Heaven, Greybull WY.”
Laird added, “We have been asked to do something for the kids. So there is a single shot 410 shotgun. Kids only can bid on the shotgun at the event. We love seeing entire families that show up.” Donald and Sandy Fernau donated it.
Also in the auction, attendees will have the opportunity to bid on a portable wine pack with 307 wine, fly fisherman dream lamp, a cedar built coffee table, even a framed autographed Johnny Cash album. Additional items maybe seen at https://www.facebook.com/Brendonlairdmemorial. Laird said they will continue to take items for the auctions if people would like to donate.
The cost for the dinner/dance is $20 for adults and $10 for youth age 14 and under. The Rewinders will provide the music.
The Lairds again thank the community for the overwhelming response and thank everyone who has participated. “We couldn’t have gotten through this tragic loss without the community and those that loved Brendon, too. We can’t think of a better way to honor him than helping the youth of our community better themselves with additional education.”
For more information call Mike and Andrea Laird at 765-9994 or Sherri Wilkinson at 899-4358.