Barhite: Local tornado victims prepare for annual 5K, reflect on Okla. stormWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Sigler could only watch a little bit of the Oklahoma tornado coverage before she turned it off.
She didn’t need the stories and photos to comprehend such devastation; she knows firsthand. Nearly three years ago, her sister Mary Walters and family died when a tornado tore through their Millbury home. The only survivor was the Walters’ daughter, Maddie, who Sigler and her husband, Craig, are now raising with their twin daughters, Evie and Abbie.
“It is heartbreaking; my heart hurts for them,” Sigler said of the Oklahoma victims.
But what some people don’t understand is that the Siglers and Maddie are not struggling anymore. Their resilience will be on display at the Third Annual Walters Family 5K/Walk at 8 a.m. June 8 at the Ayers Road Fire Station. Participants can still register on the day of the race for $20.
“People underestimate Maddie’s strength and her sure will to be a strong little girl,” Sigler said. “God has given her bounce-back ability. We don’t struggle the way people would anticipate we would.”
Sigler said the family’s faith gives them peace. They know they will see Mary, her husband, Todd, and their son, Hayden, again.
“By the grace of God, we can be happy without them in our lives. Time does heal wounds,” Sigler said. “We are happy. We still miss them and love them, but we have found a happy new normal.”
Sigler said she kept the girls guarded from the Oklahoma tornado coverage. It reminded her how the June 5 tornado could have been even worse.
Luckily, school was not in session when the late-night storm destroyed Lake High School. Those in Oklahoma were not as fortunate.
“That could have been all of our students trapped in the school,” Sigler said.
Even though the Siglers live in Northwood, they kept Maddie at Lake Local Schools. The 10-year-old will enter middle school in the fall. The twins, who are 16 months younger, go to Lake as well.
“We didn’t want to change anything else in her life,” she said. “We have such great connections. We just felt very compelled to keep her with her friends and what is familiar and what she has always known.”
Robin Arquette said her niece will once again yell out, “Ready, Set, Go” at the 5K. Arquette started the 5K because she and her brother — Maddie’s dad — used to run together; it was “their thing.” She also wanted to use the proceeds from the 5K to start a scholarship.
Last year, Amber Gonzales of Findlay received the first-ever Ryan, Mary, and Hayden Walters Scholarship Fund at Owens Community College. Ryan graduated from Owens and was working on his bachelor’s from Spring Arbor University when he died.
“My goal is to keep continuing to have the endowment grow so we can keep helping the community to say thank you for helping us,” Arquette said.
The 5K event will include massages, face-painting and visits from McDonald’s mascots. It is a fun event that is kid-friendly.
“Maddie likes the doughnuts,” Arquette said, laughing.