Local News

Parents' Tragedy Turns Into Way To Help Others

Posted June 14, 2005 5:02 a.m. EDT

— Parents can never completely get over the death of a child, but they can learn to celebrate their children's legacy. A Cary family turned its mourning into making a difference.

Kassel Smit died in a car crash on Highway 64 in Cary in April 2004. His family and friends remember him as a vibrant teenager who brought so much joy to people's lives.

"The greatest pleasure that he had was making somebody laugh or smile," said Theresa Smit, Kassel's mother.

Theresa and Kevin Smit, Kassel's father, have their moments, but they do not dwell on the pain. Instead, they are celebrating what would have been Kassel's 18th birthday with a

fundraising run at Bond Park

. The event will raise money for scholarships for Cary High School students.

"We started a tradition as a faimly of running our age on our birthdays. Of course, this would have been Kassel's 18th birthday. We're not asking people to run 18 miles," Kevin Smit said.

"I think he would be proud of us that we have this big party for him," Theresa said.

Kassel was a runner, a boy scout and a member of the drama club at Cary High, but it was not what he did, it was how he did it.

"He would reach out to anybody and everybody and make them feel important. He did that a lot," Kevin Smit said.

The Smits said they have no ill-will toward the teenage driver of the car their son was riding in. Instead, they have a message for how parents should treat their children.

"Take those rare moments that you have and reach out, wrap your arms around them and give them a big hug. Do it early and often," Kevin Smit said.

The 5K race and one-mile fun run will be held at Bond Park at 7 p.m Thursday. So far, about 200 people are already registered.