Dustin Tesdahl was a Blue Hill senior who died in a bus crash two years ago but a second annual 5k event helps assure that he is not forgotten.
The memorial 5K walk/run Saturday at Hastings Lake will benefit the Dustin Tesdahl Character Fund, which provides an annual character fund contribution to a graduating Blue Hill senior who is headed for college.
Tesdahl spent quite a bit of his life in and out of foster care.
“I remember at the time that the accident occurred everything that was out in the media referred to Dustin Tesdahl, foster child,” said memorial run organizer Brenda Cook. “Working in foster care, and at one time Dustin had actually lived with us, I was just really offended by that. Why are we putting this social label on this child? We don’t put these social labels on anybody else.”
Cook said it wasn’t fair to insult his memory that way.
“Dustin was just a normal kid,” she said. “He was accepted by everybody in his community, at his school and by his classmates. He was just normal. In our society today, I think we hear all these horror stories about foster care. We hear that these kids are just really naughty who are placed into care.”
Cook said society does not look at children in foster care like they look at every other child.
“Every child is just another child, period,” she said. “It could be, in effect, anybody because kids get into foster care not just because they are not loved. There is a variety of reasons.”
During the time of his death, Tesdahl’s foster parents assisted his biological family with the grieving process and funeral arrangements.
“They continue to be very active in the Dustin Tesdahl Character Award that is given every year to a graduating senior from Blue Hill High school,” Cook said.
Saturday’s second annual 5K memorial walk/run has a two-fold mission. To raise money for the character award and to remember Dustin, as he loved to run.
“That was something that was very important to him. He loved any time he could get out and go running. It is a time for us to remember Dustin, pay tribute to him, remember who he was and to remember the difference he made in a lot of people’s lives,” she said.
The Dustin Tesdahl Character Award is not based on academic performance, but rather the character of students and the difference they make in the world.
“At school, Dustin always had a smile and a high five for everybody,” Cook said. “No matter what was going on in his life personally, he always had a smile for everybody else. He accepted everybody and there was no social-economic thing for Dustin. He just loved everybody. That is the whole idea behind having the character fund. We didn’t want the money to necessarily go to someone who had the best academics. More, what are they doing in the community and how are they impacting their world.”
The event will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at the entrance to the boat dock area off South Shore Drive at Hastings Lake.
Check in and/or sign up be from 8 to 8:45 a.m. at the boat ramp area but participant’s can pre-register online at www.scbsne.com or contact Cook at 402-469-5234 or Amy May at 308-237-5951. Cook can also be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
All participants will receive a ribbon and a T-shirt, while supplies last. Prizes will also be presented for first and second places.