Sunday night, the Waterhawks Ski Team paid tribute to a young skier killed at Eagle Lake in Evansdale last summer.
It's been one year since nine-year-old Bodee Peterson of Hudson was run over by a veteran team boat driver during a Waterhawks kids day practice session. The accident is the only fatality on Eagle Lake in the ski club's 50-year history.
Hundreds of balloons filled the air above Eagle Lake Sunday evening as a release in honor of nine-year-old Bodee Peterson. A year after his tragic death, this skiing community is still coping with the loss.
"We feel such a hole without Bodee's physical presence. But what we've challenged ourselves to do in so many ways to feel his spiritual presence. We know Bodee is with us," said Christy Twait with the Waterhawks Ski Team.
And the Waterhawks know to honor Peterson, they've got to keep doing what he loved best: skiing.
Several of Peterson's fellow skiers and Hudson classmates shared memories of him during Sunday's memorial show.
"One day Bodee came up to me at school and asked me to be his girlfriend. I said no that my dad says I can't date until I'm 18, and he said, 'Well, I'll still love you forever,'" one skier said.
As much as Bodee love his friends and skiing, his family is stunned by how much love this community has shown them.
"It's unbelievable. We actually had planned on moving last summer back to the west coast where we're from, and when this happened, just the love of the community in the loss of Bodee, we decided to stay. We couldn't leave," said Heather Peterson, Bodee's mom.
Now, it's their mission, and the goal of the Waterhawks, to keep Bodee's memory alive. Donations are being collected to make a rock a permanent memorial to the skier at Eagle Lake, including his picture and a Bible verse.
The Waterhawks also want to establish a scholarship to help more kids afford to be part of the ski team, and even create a "Bodee Zone" playground at Eagle Lake.
"His legacy is everything I would want it to be, and I just want to continue it," Heather Peterson said.
As part of that, the Waterhawks are taking the "Bodee Pledge," and encouraging others to do the same. It's a commitment to live and love fearlessly, just like he did. And with a renewed commitment to safety, the team will also continue its passion for the sport Bodee loved so much.
Bodee Peterson's family is also establishing the "Bodee's Buddies" fund, which will grant college scholarships. A poker run benefit for the fund is set for September 22, beginning at 8 a.m. at the Screaming Eagle in Waterloo.
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