Hundreds gathered at the First Baptist Church in Fairbury Saturday evening for a vigil to remember Prairie Central students Dylan Bazzell and Drew Fehr.
A service inside the church included music, prayer, readings and memories before the crowd proceeded outside holding candles and walking to the memory wall near the high school football field.
“We are all hurting,” said First Baptist Church associate pastor Brian King. “When this family of people come together from the Fairbury and Prairie Central communities, it just means so much.”
King recalls the boys along with other high school athletes attending the church’s Upward basketball games and how little kids would look up to them. They signed autographs but remained humble.
“They shined in everything they did, yet gave time for the community,” noted King.
Hillary Blackwell organized Saturday’s gathering as a way to provide comfort.
“I was at the Baptist Church on Monday and just saw so many sad high schoolers and I thought we need something, we need to hug them.”
Blackwell estimates that over 600 people were there.
“I think it just really speaks to who Drew and Dylan were,” she said.
Trevin McCulloh, assistant boys basketball coach, was among those speaking at the service. He admitted choosing only a few memories to talk about with these guys is almost impossible as he cannot put into words what those memories are like.
McCulloh has a long history with Fehr, Bazzell and their teammates and was in awe when he watched them play a game in Kankakee as youngsters.
“They were kind of a carbon copy of what we have now,” recalled McCulloh.
That is when he asked current Prairie Central head coach Darin Bazzell to let him be an assistant. McCulloh predicted the team was going to do something special someday.
“I’m not thankful for 31 wins, a regional championship or a conference championship. I’m thankful for the time we were fortunate to have with them.”
Following an outdoor prayer at the memory area from Pastor King, the crowd sang two verses of “This Little Light of Mine” while holding lit candles.