Filling Gaps For Family and Community

Mar 19, 2024

Filling Gaps For Family and Community

By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

Still in the toddler phase, Colton Sherrill asked his grandmother for a basketball.

“But Colton, don’t you already have two?” she asked.

He replied, “Yes, but I don’t have a Spaulding.”

Colton continued his avid love of balls by playing several sports. Soccer and basketball became his top picks by the time he was ten years old, but he still had time for other activities. He loved helping his mom, Dena, with fundraising projects for the City of Durant’s Main Street program.

Though Colton wasn’t a fan of shooting off fireworks, he loved working the fireworks stand to raise money. He was able to send kids off excited with their bags of colorful pops and flames.

One thing did keep Colton benched occasionally. He had a heart condition he was being treated for. But there was more wrong with his heart than anyone knew.

Colton was cleared for basketball camp in the summer of 2008, shortly before turning eleven. While at camp, he lost consciousness and couldn’t be revived.

Colton’s sudden passing left a gap in the City of Durant and in his parents and sister.

But together, they started the Colton Sherrill Memorial Foundation and decided an annual fundraising run would honor his memory best. It keeps the celebration of his life on health, fitness, sports, family, and partnership with the Main Street program he once helped raise funds for.

The Sherrills didn’t imagine the size their endeavors would grow to after that first downtown run in 2010.

Today, an average of 1,400 runners participate in the 5K and 10K runs annually, including Colton’s dad, Trace, who is an avid runner.

Dena and Trace with runners and Colton's former classmates

Emergency Medical Equipment on Hand

Part of the funds raised through the Colton Sherrill Memorial Foundation go toward automated external defibrillators (AEDs) placed in schools. Trace says they don’t know if emergency equipment like an AED would have saved Colton, but they want to make sure those are on school campuses and in gyms in case they can save a student.

“You need enough AEDs so that they are readily accessible,” Trace says. “When someone needs one, they need it within 4-5 minutes. You have to have enough AEDs throughout the campus to put your hands on readily, and someone who is not afraid to take it off the wall and use it. We partnered with local fire departments and EMS to train teachers and school staff early on.”

Remembering Colton in Life-Giving Ways

The family’s foundation also provides education for the community on how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and they’ve donated toward community projects for Durant Main Street, emergency equipment for the Durant ISD & Bryan County EMS, the Oklahoma Health Department statewide mobile health units, and a scholarship fund at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. They’ve gifted new soccer goals for the Durant Soccer Club, and bleachers for the soccer field. One of the fields is now named Colton’s Field.

Now, with funding from the Texoma Health Foundation, the Colton Sherrill Memorial Foundation is expanding beyond Bryan County to install AEDs and LifeVacs (anti-choking devices) inside schools in Marshall County.

The Colton Sherrill Memorial Foundation has given the Sherrill family a special purpose, filling a gap in their own lives.

“We want to honor Colton’s memory,” Trace says. “We are very blessed by our community support and THF. That support keeps his memory alive and serves a vital purpose for the communities.”