SCANDINAVIA – An Iola couple that lost their son two years ago in an alleged drunken driving crash makes it their mission to raise awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving.
The Thorne family now hosts a memorial motorcycle ride every year and bring awareness and raise money for the cause.
On Sunday the population of Scandinavia got a little bit bigger.
That’s because more than 300 people showed their support for Liz Thorne who lost her son too soon.
“Dylan would’ve been 20 this year,” said Liz Thorne, Dylan’s mother.
On July 19, 2012 Dylan Thorne was on his way to work when he was killed by alleged drunken driver in a head-on crash.
Thirty-nine-year-old Heather Schmidt is facing homicide charges in Thorne’s death.
His mother still remembers the moment she got the call.
“I remember him saying that it was Dylan and that they did everything they could and that they couldn’t save him,” Thorne said.
Thorne says she still holds on to the good memories of her son.
“[He had a] great attitude that he had on life and his zest for life,” Thorne said.
Those who knew the former football player say you couldn’t help but notice his huge grin.
“He could really light up your whole world with just his smile and he brought so much happiness to people,” said Taylor Lodewegen.
“He was just such a wonderful soul and we just miss his smile so much,” said Tina Albers.
The number 21 has a special meaning for those who knew Thorne. It was his jersey number and the money raised at the event will help build new locker rooms at his high school.
The Thorne family says it could cost $150,000 to build new locker rooms at Iola-Scandinavia High School.
So far the family has raised more than $24,000.
“His name will be on that locker room and that’s something we’ll think about every single time we walk into it,” said Scott Erickson, Thorne’s football coach.
Even those who never met Thorne wanted to participate in the 110 mile ride.
“Anything that will keep alcohol and people off the roads, we’re all for and we just love to go out on these runs,” said Tom Hanby.
Before the riders hit the road you couldn’t help but notice the bright orange shirts in the crowd that read, “number 21 on the field, number one in our hearts.”