JOPLIN, Mo. —
The Lantz Hare Foundation will be the host for a rubber duck race this weekend to raise money for activity scholarships in memory of Hare, a Joplin teenager who died in the May 22 tornado.
Money raised will go toward scholarships in memory of Hare for teens for admission to activities at The Bridge youth center in Joplin. Financial need and willingness to volunteer at the center are prerequisites for eligibility for the scholarships.
“We want them to be involved in community- and Christian-based groups, and keep their minds and bodies active,” said Michelle Hare, Lantz’s mom, who is president of the foundation.
Hare would have been a junior at Joplin High School this year. His mom said he wanted to go to college and was a straight-A student. His passion was for BMX biking.
“From the day that his dad bought him his first BMX bike, there wasn’t a day that we didn’t see him ride it,” she said.
Hare spent time at The Bridge and Autumn Ramp Park riding, but he wasn’t involved in competitive biking. He also spent time volunteering with The Bridge, teaching others how to ride and tutoring children in school. So far, the foundation has given away three scholarships.
On May 22, Michelle Hare was in Webb City, and she called her two sons to check on them after hearing the hail from the storm. Her younger son was at home and was fine, but when she reached Lantz, she could hear the hail. The 16-year-old was in a car at 20th Street and Wisconsin Avenue when the tornado threw the car about 250 feet.
“‘I’m just trying to get home,’ were his last words to me,” she said.
The Hares found the car on May 23 but could not locate Lantz.
“That four-day waiting game, not knowing that he might be in the hospital or somewhere needing you, was the most excruciating part,” Michelle Hare said.
Hare’s body was identified May 26 in the temporary morgue set up in the wake of the storm. The family later held a service for him and The Bridge put together a video about him. As she watched the video at the service, Michelle Hare said, she came to the realization that her son was in a better place.
“He was taken for a reason, and he wasn’t scared,” she said.
About a month later, a friend suggested that the Hares help other children have a similar experience to Lantz’s at The Bridge, so they started the Lantz Hare Foundation in his memory. The foundation, Michelle Hare said, has given her a chance to remember her son and to cope with his loss.
“Sometimes it’s hard and taxing to work full time and be a single mother, but then there are days like today where I get to talk about it and know I’m doing the right thing,” she said. “It definitely helps me in more ways than just keeping me busy.”
Hare said her foundation will hold additional events throughout the year to raise more funds for the scholarships. She said she hopes to eventually raise enough money to build an outdoor ramp for BMX bike riding. In the long term, the group hopes to branch out to other communities and start or help fund youth programs.
THE DUCK RACE will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the low-water bridge at McIndoe Park in Joplin. There will be prizes for first- through third-place winners. Ducks will be $5 each, and may be purchased in advance at the foundation’s website, www.lantzharefoundation.com, or the day of the event. In the event of inclement weather, the race will be held April 28.