GILLETTE (WNE) — On June 6, Debbie and Jim McLeland and a small group of friends gathered in front of M&K Oil as a Bobcat lowered a bronze winged shoe, 6 feet in length, into place on a stump of petrified wood.
The sculpture commemorates the eight University of Wyoming cross-country runners who were killed by a drunken driver in 2001.
It serves as yet another reminder of the dangers of drunken driving. Morgan McLeland was 21 years old when he died in that crash. This fall will mark the 21st anniversary of that incident. For his mom, Debbie McLeland, time has flown by and simultaneously stood still.
“That’s the strange thing about it,” she said. “It doesn’t take much to just go right back to it, feel everything that you felt that day, and yet, it seems like, how could it possibly be this long?”
Each September, the community honors the memory of those eight runners with the Memory of the 8 Walk/Run. Now, with this sculpture, there will be a reminder that is up year round, ensuring the Memory of the 8 lives on. The sculpture was created by local artist and dentist Dr. Patrick Love with Powder River Dental.
Love estimated it took between nine and 12 months to complete the sculpture, which measures 72 inches, or 6 feet, in length and stands 80 inches off the ground.