Osage community rallies together after tragedy
LAKE OZARK - For the past five years, Osage Heritage Elementary has hosted a Color Run to raise funds for the school. But this year, a recent tragedy in their community called for a small change of plans.
Students proposed a campus recycling project as the beneficiary for Saturday's race. Faculty and parents have been planning an Earth Day 5K for months, but after a fire took the lives of four Osage students Thursday, the community decided to send additional proceeds to the family.
The children who died in the fire were identified as 14-year-old Tyler Otto, 8-year-old Cason, 5-year-old Max and 4-year-old Levi.
Saturday's event hit close to home for Denise Baker, a first-grade teacher at Osage, who taught the oldest Otto son when he was in grade school.
"It's been a very hard week for everyone, but watching kids love on each other this week and support each other, just to come together and celebrate their lives and give back to that family," Baker said.
Cori Meglan, a committee head representing the Parent Teachers Association, said everyone went above and beyond not just for the event, but in supporting the Otto family.
"Our community has just you know stuck together. We are just like glue," Cori Meglan, committee head said. "We would do anything to support them and get them through their hard time."
Over 200 participants and volunteers came to the Color Run. Meglan said the students played a huge role in the event - they developed and proposed the recycling project to PTA, made posters and put together seedlings to plant trees.
Meglan said money raised will still be used for the students' recycling project, but the rest will go toward the family.
Donations can me made to the "OTTO Family Fund" at any Central Bank location in the Lake of the Ozarks. Those not in the area can mail checks payable to Otto Family Fund c/o Lisa Hesprich, PO Box 550, Lake Ozark, MO, 65049.