Adopt-A-Highway in Memory of a Dear Friend’s Daughter, Stephanie K. Ward Stahl
When you discover that a young person who you have known since she was a child has passed away in a tragic accident, you feel helpless. You want to do something to comfort the family members. What do you do?
Well, back in January of 2013, after Stephanie K. Ward Stahl's untimely passing on November 11, 2012, it was announced on Facebook that Tammy Keller was organizing an Adopt-A-Highway clean up in memory of Stephanie. Through the years, I have seen many of these blue Adopt-A-Highway signs along different locations on roads in memory of a loved one, but I did not know how it all came to fruition.
Well, in West Virginia, the State of West Virginia requires scheduled clean-ups three times a year where the Adopt-A-Highway sign will be erected. The State of West Virginia provides all of the necessities: orange garbage bags, neoprene gloves, neon yellow vests for safety and a grabber so you don't come in contact
with any of the garbage clean up items. The first of the scheduled three clean ups took place on Saturday, March 30, 2013. The clean up involved a two mile stretch of McCutchen Road, Triadelphia, WV, near the Cherokee Trading Post Store going east to the intersection, then going west to the new Suburban Hotel. I believe that Tammy Keller was very instrumental in organizing everything to accomplish this clean up and the two additional clean ups. She definitely received some help from many of Stephanie's family and friends to accomplish this awesome sentiment which, by the way, was extraordinary. It was the largest in quantity of participants in the State of West Virginia, which made the family quite proud. The second clean-up was held Saturday, August 2, 2013, but I was not available to participate in this clean-up.
The third clean up was held on Sunday, November 10, 2013, one day before the anniversary of Stephanie's passing. The tragic accident occurred on McCutchen Road near where the new Suburban Hotel is now located. The Adopt-A-Highway sign is posted at that location. It was truly heartwarming to participate with such a large group including Stephanie's family members, i.e, her husband, her daughter, her parents and many other relatives and many, many friends. The Triadelphia Volunteer Fire Department and the Valley Grove Volunteer Fire Department were also there to help in any way they could as they were in previous clean ups. Prior to beginning, we had a moment of silence and prayer then a Balloon Release took place. The weather for this third clean-up was not the greatest, but just then, the sun burst through the clouds and a few blue skies appeared just as we released the balloons which traveled softly up to heaven. I'd like to think Stephanie had a bit to do with that, along with our Creator, of course. I think they were both giving us their blessings.
The wind was quite gusty during this last clean up 0f 2013. So, some of us decided to just hold on to the orange clean up bags and the others used the grabbers to pick up the trash and place them in the bags. It is disturbingly eye opening how much garbage is thrown out of automobiles, trucks, etc. along the
roadway and this is only a two mile stretch of McCutchen Road. Come on people this is your land, don't throw your trash out of your vehicles!
So, now, all who can participate will get together three times a year for the Adopt-A-Highway clean ups to keep the memory alive of a young woman gone way too soon. I know that this will never take the pain away, but I hope and pray that it does help the family know that in some small way we can help them with this overwhelming pain of losing Stephanie way too soon.
So, if you ever hear that volunteers are needed for an Adopt-A-Highway clean up near you in memory of a loved one, please don't hesitate to get involved, it is very heartwarming. I look forward to the yearly clean ups and hope I can participate in each one to help keep Stephanie's memory alive and help her family and friends cope with her untimely passing.
Rest in Peace Stephanie K. Ward Stahl and God be with your family.
Have faith, you will see her again!!