DANVILLE – This year's Reagan Williams Memorial Track Invitational will raise money not only to increase awareness about Shaken Baby Syndrome, but also to fund the first scholarship that will be given in the toddler's memory.
Greg Williams, Reagan's paternal grandfather and head of Danville High School's English department, said the scholarship will go to a graduating Danville High senior who plans to study pediatric medicine or nursing or law enforcement or pursue a career as a firefighter or emergency medical technician. An amount has not been set.
Reagan's relatives were touched when Tilton firefighters and paramedics brought their truck to a candlelight vigil last July to mark the one-year anniversary of Reagan's death, Williams said.
"It really put a human face on those people and what they do," Williams said of the people, who responded to a 911 call from Reagan's home on the day of her death. "It got us thinking about what we could do to try to encourage students" to go into those fields.
Danville High's boys' track coach Steve Luke started the memorial track meet last year after hearing about Reagan's death. The 2 1/2-year-old Tilton girl died suddenly on July 2, 2006.
Ryan Allhands, 23, of Tilton – the ex-boyfriend of Reagan's mother – faces four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the toddler's death.
This year, participants include teams from Danville, Schlarman, Georgetown-Ridge Farm, Bismarck-Henning, Hoopeston Area, Oakwood and Tri-Valley high schools.
Like last year's event, all proceeds will go to fund Reagan's Rescue, which was started by Williams, his wife, Marsha, and Reagan's maternal grandparents, Gary and Becky Green, to raise awareness and provide education about Shaken Baby Syndrome and to support local agencies that help abused children and their families.
Event T-shirts and pink and purple Reagan's Rescue bracelets will be available for sale. Two Reagan Emery stuffed bears – which the Boyds Bears company named after her – will be raffled off, and a 50-50 raffle will also be held.