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Face of the Race: Atwood

ATWOOD, Ill. (WCIA) -- An entire community is coming together for the 5k at the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon to show their support for a family who lost one of their own.

CI Living's Ryan Burk found out how an entire town is this morning's Face of the Race.

Sunset... a time of day where you can't help but reflect.

As she walks the halls of her daughter Shalynn's former school, Stacy Welch can't help but reflect on the memories of the person who brought so much light to her life.  

"Cheerleader, homecoming queen, everybody loved Shalynn, she was just a beautiful beautiful person," Welch said. "Just happy all the time, you couldn't help but love her." 

She was beloved by the community, but addiction robbed her family and this town of that beaming smile. 

"She graduated high school was getting ready to go to Southern Illinois University and started dabbling in drugs a little bit and over the course of four years," Welch said. "It got a little worse, went to treatment a couple times, and unfortunately at 22 it had progressed to heroin and she passed away from a heroin overdose." 

Stacy turned to running to help with the grief.

"Running is my go to. It is a way to clear my mind. I do a lot of my praying when I run." 

Now the community is joining her.

Atwood is coming together to support "Shalynn's Hope," which honors her memory and works to help others fighting addition. 

Now dozens are planning to run the 5k in April.

"We have people who don't even run, that have signed up to do this," Welch said. "We will have a lot of first time 5k-ers here, they may walk it, they may run it, but they are getting involved, getting healthy, and we are coming together as a community to support Shalynn's hope." 

As everyone gathers for a warm up, it shows Atwood's dedication. 

"It just shows you a small town, they do come together in some of the toughest times, and when Shalynn passed it was one of the toughest things for the town of atwood." 

Through the grief, her mom hopes sharing Shalynn's story with the world come race day will spread an important message. 

"We need to stop the stigma, stop the silence, and stop the shame because this happens to everyone." 

Sharing a story...

"She is guiding me every step of the way. She is the reason all those people are in there. Every decision I make I am doing it for her." 

...to help make Shalynn's memory shine bright for all.


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