Lincoln, R.I. (WPRI) — Brian Heil jogs a newly calculated 5k route in Lincoln Woods, positive his daughter would love it.
Shannon was the bright-faced, sometimes red-haired girl who was known for bringing great energy to just about everything she did, from competitive cheerleading to setting life goals. Her father said the hilly terrain of the Fierce 5k symbolizes how his daughter never backed away from a challenge.
“It had to be fierce,” Heil said as he gave the course a run-through. “It had to have that sort of, if you got from point A to B, you felt like you really accomplished something pretty amazing. Shannon would’ve loved that because that’s how she lived her life. It wasn’t always a straight line, but she got from point A to B.”
It was a week after 4th of July in 2013 on Route 102 in Burrillville. Shannon and her friend Markel Torres were killed in a collision that spared the car’s other passenger, Will Skurry.
“All I remember is Markel yelling, Shannon. And then feeling an impact,” Skurry recalled last year as Shannon’s cheerleading squad was preparing for a competition.
Shannon’s father knew she had a way about her, but her impact in her 19 years continues to amaze. One recent example involves a comment from someone who barely knew the girl who gave a new meaning and symbol to the word fierce.
“She reached out to me through Facebook and said I met Shannon once and if it wasn’t for Shanon I wouldn’t be where I am,” Heil said, adding that he’s heard “a lot” of stories like that since the crash.
Shannon inspired her friends to make it to a cheerleading world championship last year. On Saturday, the Fierce 5k will help raise money for Fierce for Shannon.org, set up to help others who have Shannon’s unique combination of dedication, drive and compassion.
“I can’t control the accident. I can’t change anything about that,” Heil said. “What I can change is how I respond to that accident. Shannon changed things in peoples lives and she changes things in my life, even today.”