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Skate/walk marathon set to honor Brendan O’Brien

When Berg Middle School student Brendan O’Brien lost his life last week, it was a terrible tragedy. To honor O’Brien’s memory, his girlfriend, Kailee May Pettigrew, Gary Hussey, Shaykiryra Celeste Stone-Farland and her daughter, Hannah, and the Team Newton Speed Club have set up a mile-long skate/walk marathon with benefits going to the O’Brien family.

The benefit will take place at the Maytag Park south shelterhouse. Registration will be from 6 to 8 a.m Saturday, May 18. The event will run from 8 to 11 a.m. with music provided by a DJ.

“A tragedy like this is just devastating for the family and for the classmates,” Hussey said. “I know he had a lot of classmates that were at the funeral, and most of the teachers were there.”

Hussey said several students wanted to help the family.

“Six of my my speed skating team members are his classmates, and they approached me with it to see if we can do something for his family,” Hussey said.

In almost no time, Hussey said he was able to get an event scheduled and booked, but not everything went smoothy.

“The only thing I had problem with was getting the area to do it at,” he said. “I wanted to do it on the road, but the sheriff thought (it may be an issue because) businesses are open at that time, so I had to go with some other options.”

He also said safety was issue.

On April 21, Newton Police were dispatched at 9:04 p.m. to the 1100 block of East 19th Street North in reference of a car and pedestrian accident. Initial information indicated the driver Daniel Edwards was driving north in the 1100 block of East 19th Street North when he allegedly struck O’Brien.

O’Brien was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, where he later died. A funeral mass was held for him on Monday, April 29, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Newton.

“Team Brendan” shirts are available for ordering. The shirts are blue with fluorescent green writing that says “Team Brendan” on the front. The shirts will cost $10 with $5 going to the family to help cover expenses. The deadline to order is May 10. Once the order is placed, the shirts will be given out at registration before the benefit starts.

Hussey said the Speed team’s shirt will be a fluorescent green with the team’s logo on it. He also said the team is made up of 22 members, with a majority of them being from Woodrow Wilson Elementary, Berg Middle School and Newton Senior High School.

O’Brien was a gifted artist who loved camping, the outdoors and had an interest in animals. He also was an organ donor, and helped save the lives of six people, two of which were children. Hussey said O’Briens father, Bob, will be at the event.

For more information contact Hussey at

sidebar: Thunder Nites will also be holding a 50/50 raffle with proceeds being donated to the O’Brien family driving its first rally of the year on May 10. Brendan O’Brien’s father, Bob, is the president of the organization and its Facebook page said the following about the raffle:

“Bob O’Brien, the President of Thunder Nites Bike night in Newton was dealt a horrible tragedy as his son Brendan succumbed to his injuries from being struck by a car. Thunder Nites was Bob’s vision, and we are trying to give back to him as much as he’s given to the community and Thunder Nites. Proceeds will go to help Bob with expenses.”

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