Glow stick event benefits injured Cedar Falls sailor
Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -
Eastern Iowans braved the bad weather Saturday night to support Cedar Falls sailor Taylor Morris.
Morris lost portions of all four of his limbs after a bomb blast in May in Afghanistan. Since then, he's been rehabilitating at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
On Saturday night, approximately 400 people turned out, despite a rainy evening, at Cedar Falls' Washington Park for the Taylor Morris Glow Stick 5k fundraiser.
The 5K combined the rush of a night run with the warmth of helping a hometown hero.
Morris's sister Claire Morris helped organize the event.
"We've had people that just, like, showed up today at five and said, 'You know, hey, I'm from 45 minutes away in some town and we would like just to run and encourage Taylor and be here and share this with everyone,' and, yeah, I mean, crazy turnout," Morris said.
Those at the event watched a video greeting from Taylor Morris and his girlfriend Danielle Kelly.
"We wish we were standing in that starting line with you guys," Kelly told the crowd in the pre-recorded message.
"It really means a lot to us," Morris said, sitting next to her in the video. "It really feels great to know that the whole community's got your back in something like this and that there's someone out there rooting for you, and that's how we feel with Cedar Falls and the community."
Morris has all four of his prosthetic limbs now. Through daily physical therapy, he moves toward greater mobility and independence.
Morris's sister said her brother was never a fan of running but he now talks about competing in a marathon.
"I don't know if he wants to go quite towards the Olympics, but you never know. Taylor has a weird way of blowing everyone out of the water, expectation-wise," Claire Morris said.
The 5k event raised thousands of dollars to help Morris with unforeseen costs once he leaves the hospital and lives more independently. However, Claire Morris said, this event wasn't as much about the funds as it was, "celebrating the fact that he, I mean, he's alive and our community's awesome and it's great!"
Dan Kelly, Danielle Kelly's uncle, was at the event with an American flag wrapped around his shoulders.
"It's huge to see the community support for Taylor, somebody that has given so much for our freedom," Kelly said. "I'm honored to be here in supporting him. It's a great event. I think it shows the character and courage of Cedar Falls to come up and support him in this night."
It's support Taylor Morris and Danielle Kelly feel from 1,000 miles away.
On Thursday, Morris will be coming home to Cedar Falls for the first time since his injury in May. He'll stay just for the weekend.
Friends and family members plan on greeting him at the Waterloo Regional Airport with an escort and a hero's welcome.
Morris will travel along Airport Boulevard from the airport to his much-awaited lunch at a favorite restaurant in Cedar Falls.
Organizers encourage everybody to line the route and help welcome Morris home.
His flight is expected Thursday afternoon around 1 p.m.
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