By Tom Tolen /

Regina Locklear says her faith is what has enabled her to cope with everyday living in the aftermath of losing her daughter three years ago. Locklear’s daughter, Darian, and her best friend, Julianna Ward-Brown, died in a traffic accident on February 6, 2018. The vehicle they were riding in went out of control and crashed into two trees on I-96 while traveling to hockey practice for the Meijer 16U girls’ hockey team. Both were 16-year-old juniors: Darian at Brighton High School and Ward-Brown at Howell High School.

Locklear says life without her daughter, who had a reputation for her compassion and kindness in and outside of school, has not been easy. One of the ways Locklear copes with the loss is by having established various charitable endeavors through The Darian Locklear Project - a foundation the family created in her honor. One of those is the Dash for Darian, which is now in its third year.

The Dash for Darian will be held Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. at Brighton High School. About 170 people had registered for the race as of Thursday night, and Locklear says usually another 30-40 sign up the day of the event. Those who register can take part in the 5-K run and compete for prizes, and there’s also a 3-K for walkers. Last year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 175 participated in the run-walk and over $7,000 was raised for the foundation.

The route will take runners from the high school, through the residential streets to downtown Brighton, around the Mill Pond, past the memorial tree for Darian, and back to the high school. It’ll be better for participants this year because Main St. will be closed for the “Bark in the Park” event to raise funds for Bountiful Harvest. People can sign up until the day of the event and walk-ins are welcome. The early registration fee was $25, which included a Darian 5-K t-shirt, and is now $30 minus, but no T-shirt, due to limited supply.

Prizes in the form of gift cards will be awarded, ranging from $150 for first place to $20 and smaller amounts. Organizers will have two water stations on the route and it will be marked with arrows and signage. Among related events, there will be jump rope and hula hoop competitions for the younger kids with prizes, and a free yoga session will take place after the run hosted by Emily Walter of Kindness Yoga.

Regina Locklear says, “A big part of (the Darian Locklear Project) mission is to spread kindness and support our community.” She says they do that in several ways: Financially, by having given over $30,000 in hockey grants to young female hockey players whose families struggle with the high cost of hockey, and granting over $23,000 in scholarships to high school seniors from Livingston County. These are awarded based on an essay written by the students about how they represent and promote kindness. Last year, the 501(c)(3) non-profit gave away two $5,000 grants to local families who suffered tragedies and faced the high cost of medical bills and funeral expenses.

The Darian Locklear Project also holds what it calls “Kindness Talks” at schools locally and outside of Michigan. Locklear says, in her words, “We target the 4th to 8th graders in hopes that we can reach them before the kids become bullies.” Speakers go into classrooms and also hold assemblies on why it’s important to be kind to one another. She says her group gives the talks at no cost to the school, and teachers, parents or school administrators can request a kindness talk. More information on the organization’s myriad activities may be obtained by going to:


The family of Julianna Ward-Brown also holds a run-walk event each year honoring Ward-Brown in the fatal crash that took her life and that of Darian Locklear. The annual 5-K/10-K Julieana’s Wishes - Miles for Smiles - will take place along with related events on Sat., Aug. 7th, at Howell High School. For information, go to