Remembering Zayvier Barnes: Local race & school memorializing 9-year-old boy


(WEAU) - Are you ready to strut your stuff? The 2nd annual Chicken Chase is just around the corner and this year it will be remembering one local boy who lost his life.

6 months ago, Zayvier Barnes was taken too soon after he was killed in a car accident. But his classmates at Eleva-Strum Elementary School still remember his big heart and while their looking to update their playground; they plan to keep his life a legacy.

"He was a caring child always concerned about helping others and that's why we wanted to do something to memorialize him,” said Jodi Barnes, Zayvier's mom.

It was a day that started like any other day in November. But in the blink of an eye, it changed when the Barnes' family was hit by another car, killing 9 year-old Zayvier.

"Zayvier I think exemplified the way a lot of people would like to live their lives,” said Graham Barnes, Zayvier's dad.

"He was a very active child and so we wanted to do something in coordination with the Broiler Fest and the Chicken Chase,” said Jodi Barnes.

That's when the family got in touch with Nick Preston, the race coordinator.

"I was talking about that with my family and my son said why don't we name is Zayvier’s Chicken Chase,” said Preston.

With a name born, all that was left to figure out was where the funds would go. Meet Thea, Jayden, Kylie, Afton, Jordan, Jordan, Zoe, Khloe, Olivia, Bethany and Ally, eleven 5th graders with a dream.

"We started looking in playground books to see what kind of set we wanted to put out there, so we all tried to vote on what set we wanted,” said Bethany Christianson, 5th grader.

“A lot people like the slides and swings so all tried to put together one big thing,” said Olivia Windjue, 5th grader.

With an outdated playground, the girls wanted to raise money for a new one and remember Zayvier.

"Before we've had silent auctions and bake sales, and now were thinking of doing T-shirts and maybe another auction,” said Ally Schick, 5th grader.

"It's super exciting and it makes you feel good because you’re doing it for a good cause,” said Zoe Gullicksrud.

"It inspires me when kids have ideas and I don't want to stifle what they want to try to do, so I gave them the go ahead,” said Marty Kempf, Eleva-Strum Elementary School.

The principal says the superintendent gave the go ahead too and the girls hope to raise $4,000.

"They developed a thermometer in which they want to keep track of the amount of money they have raised. As you can see, they're over half way to their goal,” said Kempf.

It's a goal that will keep Zayvier in their hearts forever.

"Remember him and not feel sad all the time and remembering he went to this school,” said Kylie Putzy, 5th grader.

“Try to remember him and he's in a good place right now,” said Jordan Schadrie,” 5th grader.

"I truly feel that Zayvier had such a positive impact on so many people and its evident everyday with his classmates, with his family and friends I really believe that his light will continue to shine because he was such a caring and loving child,” said Jodi Barnes.

Zayvier’s Chicken Chase will be on June 1st at 8:00 a-m. There are over 500 registered already, you can register the day of the race.

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