BROOKFIELD - Pat and Ray Haun see their daughter in the faces of 27 women. One for each year she's been gone.
Their 17-year-old daughter Brenda left their Masury home to play in Brookfield's first basketball scrimmage of the season in 1983. Less than two miles away she was killed in a car accident crossing state Route 82 on Bedford Road.
''It's a tough thing to lose a child, and you never ever get over it,'' Ray Haun said.
Ray and his wife Pat, both 75, still live in Masury in a quaint two-story home decorated with trinkets that hint to memories of their 47 years together. But one memory absent from their home is the life of a daughter who attended college.
Who got married.
Who raised a family.
That memory lives among 27 Brookfield graduates who, like Brenda, played sports and dreamed of going to college. They are the recipients of a $1,000 scholarship established by Brenda's parents after her death. The Brenda Rae Haun Memorial Fund is one of the 1,180 Mahoning Valley nonprofits worth nearly $4 billion combined. It is one of many local foundations with heart-gripping origins.
Each June Pat and Ray Haun choose a high school senior that emulates their daughter's spirit.
The two follow the girls as they travel to college.
''They're teenagers now. They're Brenda's age when Brenda died. They're all good kids. They all went out to college. They all worked hard, and they all graduated,'' Ray said.
They watch as the girls become women. When the women have children, baby pictures arrive at the Hauns' house. When they get married, the Hauns receive wedding invitations.
''It's very important to us to see how these girls go through their life, something that Brenda didn't get a chance to do,'' Ray said. ''She wanted to go to college. We'd hoped that she got married and had children. And those are things that won't happen because of her death.''
They petitioned the Ohio Department of Transportation for a stoplight at the intersection where their life was forever altered. The stoplight still safeguards crossing traffic today, but that wasn't enough.
The two created the Brenda Ray Haun Scholarship Fund in remembrance of their daughter.
''That helps us,'' Pat said. ''Because to us, that is keeping Brenda alive.''
A normal day in November 1983
Brenda's brother Ron remembers his sister oddly telling him ''I love you,'' on the morning of Nov. 19, 1983.
He was under his car patching a leak in the fuel tank when Brenda left for the scrimmage against Mathews.
''I'm sure you're not gonna get to see me play my first game tonight,'' Lisa Haun, Ron's girlfriend and now wife, heard Brenda say.
"It still gives me goose bumps to this day,'' she said.
Brenda, Kathy Poto and Tina Wilson took turns driving to practices and games since each got her license. Poto took the girls home from shooting practice that morning and offered to drive that night.
''No it's my turn. I'll drive,'' Brenda told Wilson.
Poto slid between the two in the front seat, and Brenda backed the Mercury Zephyr out of her parents' driveway. The girls headed for the high school where their coaches and team loaded onto a bus.
''We waited and waited and waited,'' junior varsity coach Tim Taylor said. ''Someone said, 'Coach, there's a really bad accident. Traffic's backed up way down. They can't possibly get across the highway.' ''
Moments earlier, Brenda pulled up to the stop sign at state Route 82 off Bedford Road. A Punxsutawney man was headed east, tucked behind another car as he turned off the highway - hidden from Brenda as she started to cross.
Their car was struck on the driver's side, killing Brenda instantly. The impact sent Poto and Wilson into a coma.
Poto never woke up.
Wilson survived the accident but has never been the same.
''I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me,'' Wilson said. ''People don't understand. So you were in a car accident. So what. They don't understand the repercussions.''
She's held some 50 jobs since the accident. She was let go from nearly every one. She struggles with directions and quickly forgets minor tasks. Nearly 25 years after the accident, Wilson was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and short-term memory loss.
But she struggles most with the same question she asked coming out of coma a week after the accident: ''Why am I here?''
After the crash
The accident affected everyone who knew Brenda differently. Some can never forget where they were that day. Some can't bring themselves to remember.
Her father comforted her mother in the years that followed when Pat Haun would cry at night and struggle through life emotionally disconnected from others.
''The hard part was (when) Pat came out of that shock at night. And those nights were just,'' Lisa Haun paused to gather her thoughts. ''It was really hard just to hear her cry all night long,'' she said as her husband Ron echoed the word ''cry'' when Lisa struggled with the memory.
Most, like Tina, are haunted every day by the accident. Often the recollection brings tears and sadness.
''I always wonder why. What was the purpose?'' Wilson said.
To this day, she often grips the door panel when others are driving. When she hears sirens and her 16-year-old daughter hasn't come home yet, Wilson worries uncontrollably.
She started the Fallen Warriors program in 2009, cautioning Brookfield students on the dangers of driving. It was her way of dealing with what happened 29 years ago.
''She felt like she had to do something to get this off of her mind,'' Ray Haun said.
''It took her a number of years to do that,'' Pat Haun added.
From Wilson's efforts in pushing the Fallen Warriors program, a display case across from the high school's main entrance holds the photos of 11 Brookfield students who died before they graduated.
Brenda's and Kathy's photos are centered among them.
Tim Taylor is the athletic director at Brookfield High School. He waited for Brenda on that morning 29 years ago, and he walks by the display case on the way to his office every day.
He and retired coach Tim Filipovich will never forget Brenda, Poto or Wilson's struggles. They visited the hospital every day after the accident.
In the years that followed, the coaches took their women's basketball teams to Brenda's gravesite every year in November.
Her grave lies 300 yards from the site of the accident.
Coach Filipovich took the girls to that graveyard to remember the hopes and the sadness.
''The sorrow I felt was for the Hauns and the Potos and the students,'' Filipovich said. ''You know, the expectations and the hopes of what might be. The dreams of those girls who worked together They never had the opportunity."