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Putting yourself “10 feet away” from the people in your community

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 13, 2016

Last Saturday, five teenagers from a small Vermont community were killed in their car on their way home from a concert by a driver deliberately driving on the wrong side of the freeway. As you can imagine, the death of five young people in an area with only a few thousand residents is devastating and will take years for the community to recover from.

The day after the accident, Bobby Kelly, a classmate of the victims, wrote a message in remembrance of his friends and in celebration of his community, which a local ski area posted on their Facebook page:

So today after I heard the terrible news, my family went to Mad River Glen to ride the single up and hike down. As I stood at the top I was looking down at the little strip of road you can see from the top of the mountain. I watched a handful of these cars drive by, and they were so small from my perspective. And I thought to myself, how could something smaller than a pebble take 5 beautiful lives from us? The cars looked so small and insignificant from that far away. Then I started thinking how it’s only my perspective, and if you were 10 feet from those cars, they wouldn’t seem so small.

What I’m trying to say is, the closer you are to something, the bigger it is. There are people in our community who were ‘10 feet’ from the 5 kids we lost. Then there were some looking at them from ‘the top of the mountain’. Obviously, the people closer to them will feel the most pain, and the people furthest away from them will feel the least, it’s human nature. But, after seeing all the posts and pictures in memory of them, I realize that you only have a true community when people at the top of the mountain put themselves 10 feet from the car. We are all one, and the love for each other we have at Harwood and the community in general is something incredible. We will always miss Janie, Cyrus, Eli, Mary and Liam, but we will also always love them, because through this terrible tragedy, we will all heal together.

I don’t know about you, but I had to go take a walk after reading that. I moved to this area over the summer but didn’t know any of the victims because I’m new. The Mad River Valley Community Fund has set up a special Five Families Fund to help the families of the victims through this terrible time. If you’re moved to do so, I would appreciate you making a donation.