- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - When Wes and Liz Martin were killed in an accident in the Outer Banks in July, their family’s main concern was the couple’s four children.

Alicia, 19, Andrea, 16, Timothy, 15, and Maria, 11, lost both their parents on that horrible summer day.

Relatives moved into the family’s Lancaster Township home, to help raise the children. Friends pitched with meals. The couple’s co-workers and church members donated funds and holiday items.

And now friends and family are taking another step.

They are organizing a 5-kilometer walk and run, called Miles 4 Martins, to be held Sunday, April 27, to raise money for the children’s education.

The event will include a raffle and food, and is designed to be an event that celebrates community.

It is that community feeling that has buoyed the Martin family since last summer, when the children’s lives were changed in an instant.

While the children were at the beach with an aunt, the Martins walked to a grocery store south of Corolla, N.C. A Virginia man, who told police he fell asleep while driving, struck the couple with his sport utility vehicle, killing them.

The next days were a blur, as family members came to North Carolina to collect the children and the aunt, Janet Bridge.

A funeral, attended by more than a thousand mourners, followed.

Weeks of homemade meals and support followed, from the family’s church, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church; Martin’s workplace, The Horst Group; and Mrs. Martin’s former and current workplaces, Lancaster General Hospital and Hershey Medical Center.

After the dust settled a bit, the family faced more challenges.

“There were decisions to be made,” said Fran Bridge, 46, of Mount Joy, Mrs. Martin’s brother. “The biggest thing was we wanted to try to keep the children together.”

Two of Mrs. Martin’s sisters stepped forward.

Linda Caccamo, of Shamong, N.J., and Janet Bridge, of Ephrata, agreed to split the main duties of caring for the kids, helped by other family members who also pitch in when needed.

Stability is the goal.

“We wanted to keep them in the same house, the same neighborhood and the same schools,” Fran Bridge said.

Alicia went off to study psychology at Millersville University in the fall. Two of the other children are at Lancaster Catholic High School - Andrea is a sophomore and Timothy is a freshman. Maria is in the sixth grade at the Resurrection School.

(The family declined to allow the children to speak about the accident, saying they want to allow them heal.)

The kids are doing what kids their age do, their aunts and uncle said.

The two younger girls are continuing to play sports, including soccer and basketball. Andrea is learning to drive and has a part-time job.

“They are going to be normal teenagers,” said Jackie Hair, 58, of Manheim Township, Martin’s sister. “They are remarkable kids.”

The family has tried to make new traditions as everyone adjusts to a new normal.

They went out for a Christmas brunch, joined by relatives from out of state. They went camping on Labor Day. They went to grandma’s house in Maryland for Thanksgiving.

Along the way, the support did not stop.

“The community kept reaching out to us, asking, ‘What can we do?’ ” said Helen Witmer, 50, of Ephrata, Mrs. Martin’s sister.

Judy Phipps, a friend of Witmer’s, offered to help organize a fundraiser to help pay for the four children’s education.

A committee was formed and the event grew.

The 5-kilometer race and walk will be held at noon and begins and ends at the Lancaster Catholic High School stadium, 650 Juliette Ave.

The entry fee is $20 in advance or $25 on race day. Sponsorships also are available.

Prizes and age division awards will be given.

Food trucks will be on hand, and donate a portion of their proceeds to the event.





Information from: Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era , https://lancasteronline.com

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