‘The best of each of us’: Fairborn community remembers cross country runner killed in crash

Friends, family, teachers and classmates gathered last week to honor the life of a Fairborn High School senior and cross country runner who lost her life in a car crash.

Lily Clingner, 17, died on Dec. 16 in a Beavercreek Twp. crash. Lily was an honor roll student at Fairborn and was involved in many activities, including cross country,prom committee, American Sign Language Club, Leo Club, and varsity club.

At the “Run with Lily” memorial event last Wednesday, students, friends, family, and teachers walked or ran the Fairborn High School Cross Country warm-up lap at Community Park.

There were tears from many of Clingner’s teammates, Fairborn Cross Country Coach Allie Roberts Brazie said, as students wanted to honor the life of their friend, each in their own way.

“Some of them didn’t want to stop running,” Brazie said. “About half my team said, ‘We aren’t done yet.’”

“One in particular wanted to run the lap by herself. And we had asked her, ‘Hey, why did you want to run by yourself?’ And her response was, ‘I wasn’t by myself. I was running with Lily. Like I always do.’”

Clingner was “definitely a leader” to the other students on the Fairborn cross country team, Brazie said, adding that Clingner inspired many of her teammates to join the sport. Voted team captain by her peers, Clingner would remind her teammates to have fun with running, even when times were tough, Brazie said.

“She was dependable, especially for the young kids,” Brazie said. “We have middle school and high school that practice together. So for all of those summer practices, you have these new runners — who have never done a sport in their life — come to the cross country practice, and every single time Lily would be there.”

The “Run with Lily” event also included a silent auction, with proceeds benefitting the other victims in the crash.

“Lily truly represented the best of each of us, and served as a role model for all of our students. Lily, and her impact on each of us, is the strength of the Skyhawk spirit,” the district posted on its Facebook page last week.

A celebration of life for Clingner was scheduled for Tuesday night at the Dayton FOP. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that memorial contributions may be made to Fairborn High School, to be distributed between the cross country team, the LEO club, and the ASL Club in Lily’s memory.

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