My heart aches for the Doyle family. Even a year later, the loss of Allyson brings tears to my eyes and I never met the young girl.
My wife and I have two young daughters. Our oldest is 23 and lives in Boston. Our younger daughter is 20 and is studying in New York. Knowing how I would feel if this had happened to our family weakens me in the knees. I am amazed at the strength of my friend and his family. But life continues – heartache be damned.
On Sunday, a few hundred friends and family members joined the Doyle family at the first Ally Doyle Fun Walk. It was a virtual, collective hug. With many dressed in pink t-shirts, more than 300 participants strolled across the railroad bridge on the Farmington River trail in downtown Collinsville than spans the Farmington River.
They dropped pink flowers into the river in Ally’s memory. Once they did that, they walked down the ramp off the bridge into Arch Avenue in Burlington. At the bottom of the ramp, there was a banner of a photo of Ally, her brother Tyler and sister Isabella.
Taken on this same bridge about a year ago, it was full of life, energy and the sparkle that kids have – the energy you see when brothers and sisters are constantly wiggling around while someone is trying to take a photo of them.
Perhaps, it was a reminder to hug those we love and cherish the times we have together.
Before the walk began, Ally’s mother, Angie, climbed upon a stepladder, took a bullhorn and thanked the crowd of people for showing up for this walk. I think she, on behalf of her family, was thanking everyone for their love and support over the past year – a challenging one for all involved.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone,” she said. “I want to this to be a day to honor and celebrate Ally. I hope everyone has a good time and enjoys the walk.”
And it began. Under an arch of pink and white balloons, Angie and her husband, Mike, led the way across the bridge. And hundreds followed, spending time together. Smiling. Laughing. Remembering.
It was a tragic day when Ally passed. But from that heart-wrenching event comes some hope. More than 300 registered to participate in the walk and thousands has already been collected for a scholarship for a deserving young student to be presented in Ally’s memory.