FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — There are still a few ribbons scattered around Franklin, but for the most part they’ve been taken down. The markers by the river where Jason Moran and Michael Chadbourne lost their lives will likely fade away.
But on the first home football game of the season, Franklin Community High School unveiled a memorial Friday night it said will last forever. The school dedicated a bench to the two teens who died this summer trying to save a friend from drowning in the Big Blue River.
“You can tell the first couple days and the first home game tonight it’s been hard especially for the people really close to them,” said Anika Cooper, a sophomore at Franklin Community High School.
Putting the jerseys on again was just one more obstacle survivors like Mark Nally had to overcome in order to move forward.
“They have to continue their lives and march on and honor their friends by doing so,” said Andrea Munn, a mother of a player on the football team.
The team hit the field with a motivation not seen in seasons past. They were playing for their teammates whose numbers are no longer on the field, but scattered throughout the stands. The families of all the teens involved in the swimming accident huddled together, leaning on each other as the school unveiled a bench, dedicated to numbers 28 and 38.
“It’ll be hard. The players will see it every day. The underclassmen are going to see it year in and out,” said Munn.
“It will serve as a permanent reminder of the courage Jason and Michael showed when they jumped in after a friend and tried to save their friend,” said athletic director John Regas.
That friend, Sarah McLevish was at the game, just days after being released from the hospital. She still has a long road to recovery ahead. Now, the Franklin family is urging the team to keep playing and pushing forward, the best way anyone could honor Jason and Michael.
“Hopefully it’ll continue their legacy as players, being full of life, and always loving the game and wanting to play and that they made a huge sacrifice to save a friend,” said Munn.
If you want to help the McLevish family with medical expenses, you can donate to a Go Fund Me site here. You can also help the other families involved in the accident by contacting Franklin Community High School.