DANVILLE -- Thursday night, people in Vermilion County are remembering one of their own. The fair board is honoring the barrel-racer who died after a horseback riding accident last year.
Her family brought horses to the fair for many, many years, but this year Amy Hawker isn’t there with them. Now, her memory will live on.
"Just to know that people care so much about Amy," said Lauren Hawker, Amy’s cousin. “I hope she's happy."
The whole family was there for the Amy Hawker Memorial Arena dedication. It was held right before the barrel-racing event. It was her event and a family tradition she passed down to her daughter, Suzanne.
She says she can’t remember how long she’s been riding her pony, Pokey. That’s because she’s been doing it since she was born.
"Horses are blood in the Hawker family. Basically, when you come home from the hospital, the next week you get on a horse," said Hawker.
Amy’s niece, Haylie Armstrong, traveled to competitions and rode with her. After last year’s tragic accident, she still has the courage to get back in the saddle.
"Sometimes it gets nerve-wracking, but I think that she wouldn't want us all to quit just because of what happened," she said.
Hawker was supposed to start ridding with her this summer.
"Instead of riding with Amy this summer, I kind of get to ride for her and hope that I'm doing her proud."
Suzanne, 6, has already won titles in the Pee-Wee Barrel-racing divisions. Every time she gets on her horse, she’ll be reminded of her mom; riding in her footsteps, making the family proud.