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Pine River boy's memory provides $26,000 in scholarships

Money for Evan Lindquist Memorial Scholarships was raised through 5K events held after Evan died at age 6 in a tragic accident. His graduating classmates received scholarships this year to pursue higher education.

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At the May 18, 2022, scholarship award ceremony at Pine River-Backus School, 26 students received $1,000 each in memory of their classmate, Evan Lindquist, who died in 2010 at age 6.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal
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PINE RIVER — The memory of Evan Lindquist persists strongly in the Pine River-Backus community, where the Evan Lindquist Memorial Scholarship provided $1,000 to 26 of his classmates going on to higher education.

To see that finally playing out for me and my classmates is truly amazing. I wish there wasn't that scholarship and he was still here.
Cody Deplazes

Evan died in a tragic school bus accident in 2010, when he was 6 years old. That tragedy rocked the community, but it wasn't long before a teacher and friend of his parents decided to do good in his honor.

His mother, Melanie Lindquist, said it was Noell Johnson who came up with the idea for an annual 5K memorial run/walk in 2011. The event raised scholarship money for Evan's classmates, who will graduate from high school Friday, May 27.

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Evan Lindquist, left, and his best friend, Cody Deplazes, dressed as superheroes as young boys. Evan died at age 6 on March 22, 2010. A scholarship awarded in his name on May 18, 2022, will help Deplazes and their classmates achieve their life goals.
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"It feels like five minutes ago that Noelle came to me with the idea of doing a 5K," Lindquist said. "I remember when it was first starting up thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, that's so far away.' I was never thinking that we were actually going to get here. I knew we would, but it just seemed really far. Now it's come and I'm still processing that it just happened. It went by super quick."

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The Evan Lindquist Memorial 5K and 2-mile walk/run will start at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 13, on the Paul Bunyan Trail beginning at the Pine River Information Center.
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In memory of their daughter, Maria, the Borland family made a donation of $1,000 to this year's Evan Lindquist Memorial 5K walk/run. Maria died in March from complications from the flu, after which the Lindquist family gave their support, having ...
Dear PR-B community, Thank you so much for your support of the second annual Evan Lindquist walk/run this year. We are so blessed to call this community our home and all of you our friends. God bless. Erik and Melanie Lindquist and family, Pine R...

The goal was to raise funds for a scholarship to be awarded to Evan's classmates in 2022, when they graduated. The community wholeheartedly supported the event, which attracted an estimated 500 people its first year, and ran for seven years.

The funds raised over those years provided $26,000 at this year's scholarship awards ceremony - of an estimated $164,000 overall from 55 different scholarships - held May 18. After this year, the Evan Lindquist Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to two graduating seniors every year, for an amount of $1,000 each for 10 years.

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English teacher Rachel Warg presents Connor Tulenchik with a scholarship at the Wednesday, May 18, 2022, scholarship awards ceremony at Pine River-Backus High School.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

Several students from Evan's class were visibly and audibly touched when Johnson spoke and presented the scholarships. All 26 students stood at the podium with a somber air when the scholarship was announced. Among them was Cody Deplazes, Evan's best friend.

"My family and Evan's family were really close," Deplazes said. "There were a few families that all went to the same Lutheran church for a long time. We were really good friends growing up since we were 2 or 3 years old. We had the same day care and that kind of stuff."

Deplazes said even after Evan's death, his family proved supportive to him and their community.

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Claire Dahl and Evan Lindquist were crown bearers at a Pine River-Backus homecoming event when they were in kindergarten. On May 18, 2022, Dahl was one of 26 classmates to accept a $1,000 scholarship in honor of Evan, who died at age 6.
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"I think it's important for everyone to know how amazing Melanie Lindquist and Eric Lindquist are, because they helped organize the runs and whatnot, and they've been really supportive of me personally," Deplazes said.

Evan left a positive impression on all his classmates.

"Evan and I were classmates," said Claire Dahl. "We were in the same preschool class together. I guess a core memory I have with him is that we got to walk together in kindergarten and be crown bearers together for homecoming."

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Melanie Lindquist, a teacher at Pine River-Backus School, got to know Evan's classmates not only through his involvement in the school and the community's mourning, but through having many PR-B students go through her own class.

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Evan Lindquist (black Spiderman shirt) was in preschool in 2008-2009 with both Cody Deplazes (yellow shirt, far left) and Claire Dahl (pink shirt, back row).
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"I've gotten to know these kids," Lindquist said. "I knew them a little bit when they were in elementary, particularly the ones Evan was friends with. In the beginning they were Evan's classmates and friends, but now that they came to high school they became individuals. They are amazing people now, each one of them. I know them now as young adults and I can't imagine a more awesome class to have been his classmates and to do this with."

"I'm grateful to have Madame as one of my teachers," Dahl said of Lindquist, a French teacher. "She genuinely cares about each one of us as students and people in our community."

Evan's memory will serve to support Deplazes, Dahl and their classmates now as they go forward to pursue their dreams.

"It's really a blessing," Deplazes said. "I wasn't around for the first couple memorial runs, but I think I made it to the third, fourth and fifth. To see that finally playing out for me and my classmates is truly amazing. I wish there wasn't that scholarship and he was still here."

"It's very special," Dahl said. "I'm honored to represent him in college by having the scholarship as part of my tuition. It's not just the dollar amount that matters. I'm just grateful to be one of his classmates."

Deplazes will attend Hibbing Community College to learn to be an automotive technician. After two years learning his trade of choice he plans to come back to Pine River and put his skills to work.

Dahl will attend the University of Jamestown in North Dakota, majoring in exercise science and minoring in character and leadership. She plans to be a physical therapist and will play basketball and perform in the concert band for the university.

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There were many generous groups and individuals represented at this year's scholarship event, including the Brainerd Elks, area American Legions, local Lions chapters, Crossing Arts Alliance, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and some businesses. Memorial scholarships made a big splash this year, amounting to $30,400.

Memorial scholarships included:

  • The Evan Linquist Memorial in the amount of $1,000 each for 26 seniors.
  • The Brenden Fenstermaker Scholarship for $500 to Zach McAllister.
  • The Heather & Kelly Sigler Memorial for $1,000 to Dahl.
  • The Sarah Tabaka Memorial of $500 to Morgan Hirschert.
  • The John Geary Memorial of $300 each to Lauren Penkhus and Owen Carlson.
  • The Sheila Joan Anderson Memorial of $500 each to Brady Bristow and Caleb Ruhl.
  • The Steven Amy Memorial of $800 to Hirschert.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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