STEARNS COUNTY, Minn. — Four months ago, a horrific crash claimed the life of a Stearns County mother and her unborn son.
But, their legacy lives on this weekend.
"Casey is going to be my guiding force, said Cassie Sandstrom. "It's my place I constantly think about her."
Sandstrom, an occupational therapist for CentraCare in St. Cloud, says her friend and co-worker Casey Myers has been running through her mind, ever since Myers' trip to work last December came to a tragic end.
Stearns County deputies say a truck driver blew a stop sign, hitting and killing Myers and her unborn son, Simon.
"I will live every day for her now," Sandstrom said. "I will give everything I can. She was always the one I turned to."
Sandstrom knew she wasn't the only co-worker and friend who felt that way.
"It still feels unreal, to be working here without her," said Ashley Fogarty, another occupational therapist who worked with Myers on the CentraCare pediatric team. "She was the person, who, if you were having a rough day, would bring you a little treat with a note."
Those notes meant so much to Sandstrom and Fogarty that they both now have tattoos of Myers' handwritten messages.
"I will forever wear this and think about her every day," Sandstrom said.
Those memories are what inspired the friends to form "Team Casey" ahead of this year's CentraCare Earth Day Half Marathon in St Cloud. A year ago, Myers took part in the run with her friends, so this year they asked more co-workers to run in her honor.
Now, as the 5k and half marathon nears, more than 30 CentraCare employees in two different departments have signed up.
"It just shows how much she's touched everyone," Sandstrom said. "So many lives."
Even more lives than even Myers' husband, Matt, and son, Tyson, realized.
"It's just nice to know that, on those quiet days where it's just me and Tyson at home," Matt said. "There's all these different people that are still thinking about her and missing her and loving her, just as we are. It's super comforting."
Comforting for all.
"I will know she's running with me," Sandstrom said.
Team Casey will run in her honor at the Earth Day 5k in St Cloud on Friday night. Others, including Sandstrom and Fogarty, will run the half marathon relay on Saturday, and Casey's family will be right there cheering them on.