Based on reports from many folks who headed to Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland for last Saturday’s Memorial Fun Run honoring Art and Melissa McMahan and Anthony and Tammy Reece—exactly one year to the day after they died following an accident during the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run on Georgia’s Lake Lanier—the event was an overwhelmingly emotional yet joyful celebration of their lives.
Tanner Howard holds up one of the auction items during the Memorial Fun Run on Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland honoring Anthony and Tammy Reece and Art and Melissa McMahan. Photo by Jacob Davis/Lake Life Fotos
And according to Ohio’s Kerry Howard, whose 15-year-old son Tanner came up with the idea to put the memorial event together with help from his parents and several boaters who knew the McMahans and Reeces well, the slideshow tribute, the ensuing run to Lee’s Ford for lunch, the tossing of a memorial wreath into the water at Wolf Creek Dam and the post-run festivities at the L.C. Tiki Hut in Jamestown all came together well.
State Dock not being helpful at the last minute, we had a good time and I think everyone else did, too,” said Howard, who pointed out that the event raised almost $7,000 for the Jamestown Fire Department’s Lake Cumberland dive and rescue team. “We’re proud of the money raised for local water safety and of the support we received from many family members who came out for the tribute. Everyone at the Tiki Hut really stepped up to help us—we couldn’t have done it without them.“Besides a few snafus, including
“About 40 boats showed up at Lees Ford for lunch and I think there were about 55 total since some others went straight to the dam and then came back to the Tiki Hut for the auction,” she continued. “We had 300 shirts, with about 60 saved for family and sponsors, and we sold the rest immediately so obviously there were a lot of people there. I couldn’t believe how fast the shirts went.”
Howard said the Memorial Fun Run T-shirts sold out on Saturday morning before the run started, but that they’re planning to order more because they’ve had so many requests for the shirts, which were sold for $10 each with proceeds from the sales and an auction filled with custom personal items memorializing the McMahans and Reeces, going directly toward side-scan sonar equipment for the rescue team.
“We’d like to thank everyone who pulled together for this event and helped us raise some money in honor of our friends, Anthony, Tammy, Art and Melissa,” said Carl Marotzke, who has been a driving force behind getting a rescue and dive team formed in conjunction with the volunteer-only Jamestown Fire Department ever since his 17-year-old son, Wesley, drowned on the lake in 2009. “I don’t know how many people who boat here actually realize that the lake’s resources are only equipped for recovery not rescue, and even that is limited because the county doesn’t have the funds to purchase a side-scan sonar system, which would help with rescue and recovery efforts.
“Our 501c3 corporation that we set up just for the Jamestown Fire Department has collected more than $20,000 through various fundraisers, so with the additional $6,900 coming from the Memorial Fun Run we’re hoping to get the equipment by the end of the year,” he continued. “We’ve already spent thousands of dollars in training and equipment for the divers, but the sonar equipment is what they really need to make a difference.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the Memorial Fun Run courtesy of Jacob Davis.
Chris Simmons of Owensboro, Ky., a friend so dedicated he has a Saddle Up tattoo on his back in memory of the Reeces and their well-known green 42-foot Statement Marine V-bottom, said he was glad Tanner and his family moved forward with the Memorial Fun Run.
“The turnout for the run was good and everyone seemed to have a great time,” Simmons said. “It got emotional at times—especially when the wreath was thrown in the water in their honor—but for the most part people were pretty upbeat and sharing so many wonderful memories. That’s the way Anthony, Tammy, Art and Melissa would have wanted it anyway. They’d rather everybody live it up than be down and depressed about the situation.”
Simmons, who captured the rainbow image on the right, added that he’s not a person who really believes in signs or omens but he had to take a photo of the unorthodox straight-line-looking rainbow that was unlike anything he’s seen before because it was just too coincidental.
“Overall I thought the event was awesome—it was a nice way to honor four people who really made an impact on the boating community especially at Lake Cumberland,” said Lake Life Photos’ Jacob Davis, who traveled from South Carolina to participate in the run with David Southern in Southern’s Skater Powerboats catamaran Pure Platinum and take photos, many of which are featured in the slideshow above. “I felt like Kerry and Tanner and their family did a good job. Everyone seemed to have a great time and I think it definitely provided closure for lot of people, including many of the Reece and McMahan family members.”
Philip Kile, who helped sponsor the T-shirt design and order, came to the run from Hendersonville, Tenn., and participated with his good friend, Mike Sonley, who also helped fund the shirts. Sonley brought his 35-foot Statement Marine center console to the event and both he and Kile enjoyed sharing stories about their friends.
“I think the Howards and everyone who helped them did a very respectful job honoring our friends,” said Kile, who owns a Sunsation Boats 32 CCX center console. “The speeches and the slideshow prior to the run were done with respect for the families. I have no doubts that their hearts were in the right place, and as long as it continues to benefit the community in a positive way, there’s no reason it shouldn’t continue in their names.”
While it’s unclear if a memorial event will continue, for now everyone, including the Howards, is happy that it happened and happy that it’s behind them. They’re also happy that a teenage boy had the heart to make the considerable event come together in the first place.