A charity softball triple-header Saturday in Highland included a memorial tribute to Darian Locklear, a Brighton High School student-athlete, and teammate Julianna Ward-Brown of Howell High School, who were both 16 when they were killed in a car crash last Feb. on I-96 near Williamston.

The two young women, who were members of the Meijer AAA hockey team, were headed to practice in Lansing at the time. According to Regina Locklear, Darian’s mother, the softball games are part of the Joe Kocur Foundation Celebrity Softball Series at Duck Lake Pines Park in Highland, with all the funds raised going to local kids charities. The moving tribute took place at 4:15 p.m. — just before the last of the three games. Regina Locklear says it’s not too late to donate, and those wanting to contribute should go to the foundation’s website, www.joekocurfoundation.org.

On Sept 15th, Locklear’s supporters will field a team called “Darian’s Kindness Warriors” for the Gilda’s Family Walk & 5K Run in Royal Oak, with proceeds going to Gilda’s Club of Detroit, which provides support for families dealing with cancer. Darian’s family and friends have already raised over $4,000, and so far, 71 people have signed up to be on the team. Their goal is $5,000 and 91 team members, because 91 was Darian’s hockey number. ˇThose wishing to volunteer or to donate can go to gildasclubdetroit.org.

Earlier this month, Darian’s support family participated in the “Play with Purpose” Fundraiser organized by Steve Kiefer, whose son was killed by a distracted driver just two miles from where Darian and Julianna died. That event was held on Aug 11th at the USA Arena in Plymouth and the local group sold “Live Like Darian” t-shirts and bracelets to support the Kiefer Foundation. Darian’s supporters also created a hockey grant program called the Darian Locklear Memorial Fund of up to $5,000 for local female hockey players to be awarded annually to two or three young women and managed through USA Hockey. The first grant will be awarded around the holidays this year, and prospective young women can apply for the grant by going to the USA hockey website.

A playground was also built in Darian’s honor this year at The Haven, a shelter in Pontiac for women and children who have been victims of domestic violence and abuse. The playground, called “Darian’s Playground”, was constructed this spring at the shelter with the $40,000 donated by Darian’s supporters, which was matched 100% by Regina Locklear’s employer through its Cooper Foundation. Some 75 volunteers helped the Michigan Recreational Construction Co. of Howell build the playground in just one day.

Regina Locklear says establishing the Darian Locklear Memorial Fund, and participating in the charity fundraisers, has been a positive way for her and her family to deal with the grief that has resulted from the tragedy, saying, “I want to keep her memory alive and do good things for her.” She says everyone who knew Darian was struck by her outgoing attitude, her kindness, and her compassion. (TT)