Erik Derby said his friend Wyatt Coy was something else.
“He was a great guy. I miss the heck out of him,” said Derby, a senior at Kasson-Mantorville High School. “He always knew how to make me laugh. He made these funny faces. He had the best laugh ever, too. If you ever heard him laugh, it started in the belly and it would kind of move up. He’d shake. And he was always a lot shorter than me, so I’d always tease him for that. We had a great time together.”
Derby was among a big crowd of walkers and runners who participated Saturday in Wyatt’s Sunshine 5K Run/Walk, which honored the memory of Coy, a K-M senior who died in January.
They started and finished in Veterans Memorial Park on a warm, windy day.
Participants enjoyed refreshments while little ones colored and played in inflatable bounce houses.
“We knew it would be a good number, but this is even better than we thought,” said Derby’s mother, Kelly, who helped organize the event and is a friend of Wyatt’s parents, Matt and Michelle Coy, of rural Mantorville.
Kelly Derby said Wyatt was color blind, but he knew orange. Thus, orange T-shirts abounded, and participants released hundreds of orange balloons to start the event.
“And,” she said, “he’s Michelle’s sunshine.”
The large turnout showed support for Wyatt and for those suffering from mental health issues, said Ross Mindermann, another longtime friend and classmate.
“It’s just really nice that everyone could show up here,” he said. “Even if you don’t want to talk about it, we’re all here to support anyone who has them.”
K-M classmate Evan Deike said Wyatt was happy-go-lucky, rarely in a bad mood. And he would have appreciated the big turnout Saturday.
“He would probably think it was a really good cause,” Deike said. “It’s a good thing that we’re supporting all this, but it kind of sucks, the reason that we have to. But it’s a good thing to do for the community.”
Erik Derby said the race was “amazing.”
“It felt so good,” he said. “And 300-plus people here, all wearing orange - it feels great. And then when they released the balloons, it felt really good. For me, it kind of felt like I was saying goodbye. They released all the balloons, they all kind of went away. I was standing there with Shell and Matt. It just felt really good.”