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Families of Flight 5191 crash victims give back

A makeshift banner expressing condolences was made the morning of the crash of Comair Flight 5191. But Matthew Snoddy and his family couldn’t bring themselves to read it until about a year later.

His dad, Tim Snoddy, was among the 49 people who died in the crash on Aug. 27, 2006. As Tim Snoddy’s family members read the messages on the banner, they were impressed by how much the community had rallied behind them.

The families of other victims of the crash also noted examples of compassion from friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. Neighbors mowed lawns, a church gave restaurant gift certificates, and other businesses helped donate services or goods.

Because there were countless ways that communities have supported the families of the victims, the Flight 5191 Care Fund Advisory Committee, under the United Way of the Bluegrass, encouraged family members to participate in community service opportunities. The committee chose the theme “Giving Back” for this year’s memorial commemoration.

“They wanted the opportunity to give back to the community or express their appreciation,” said Joni Johnson, a facilitator for the Flight 5191 Care Fund Advisory Committee.

Snoddy plans to volunteer with the Lexington Humane Society Saturday. He chose to volunteer with them because he likes animals and his father Tim Snoddy loved horses.

Snoddy also plans to speak about giving back during the public memorial service next Wednesday.

“The energy that I, as a family member of a 5191 victim, got back from the community was very positive, very helpful, very healing,” he said. “It was very comforting to know that everyone in Lexington was there for me and my family. … Everyone treated it with the gravity it needed to be treated with.”

For some, participating in service opportunities can assist in coping with a loss, said Johnson, who is also director of bereavement for Hospice of the Bluegrass.

“Each grief is unique; some people may not be able to do that type of thing right now,” she said. “For others, it can be a healing and powerful process.”

Lois Turner, the widow of Larry Turner, will sit with their children at a booth Saturday at Lexington’s Farmers Market. They will be accepting donations of produce to give to the Lexington Rescue Mission.

While Larry Turner was the Associate Dean for Extension for University of Kentucky, he would help communities throughout the state to start farmers markets. Larry was also working to set up partnerships with farmers and people in need.

“I know that he would be so proud of my children and me, and he would love it that we are helping others in his memory,” she said. “We are carrying on his principles, his vision, and that is very comforting. … This is just a small way that we can give back and say thank you for supporting us and for holding us and comforting us.”

Marion Queen can’t help but think of her dad, Leslie Morris, as she continues her work with Children’s Advocacy Center in Lexington. Morris and his wife, Kaye Craig Morris, who died in the crash, were active in charities and often supported Queen’s charitable work. Leslie Morris would come to the charity auction every year to support her, and he had told Queen that in fall 2006 he would donate a metal sculpture of running horses for the Children’s Advocacy Center’s charity auction. Queen had to retrieve it from his house after the crash.

“He just went for me,” Queen said. “I think about it every year, that he would be here.”

On Saturday, the auction will be held at Keeneland, which is just across from Blue Grass Airport, where the plane crashed after taking off from the wrong runway.

“Doing the charity work, I think of them,” Queen said. “I’m hoping that they would be proud of me, and I know they would support me.”

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