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Huge turnout for the 2nd annual Daniel Barden Highland Mudfest

By WKTV News

DEANSBORO, N.Y. (WKTV) - It's been a year and five months since that horrific school shooting in Newtown, CT where 26 people lost their lives, including 20 first graders.  But this weekend, for the second straight year, those 26 victims are being remembered right here in Central New York.
 
Newtown, CT may be over 200 miles from Deansboro, NY, but the two communities have become quite tight since the senseless tragedy took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
 
On Saturday, The Daniel Barden Highland Mudfest was held at MKJ Farms in Deansboro for the second straight April.
 
Daniel Barden was one of the 20 first graders killed in the shooting.
 
What is Daniel Barden's connection with Deansboro?  The next door neighbors of the Barden's in Connecticut are originally from Deansboro, and some of their family members who still live in Deansboro, actually attended Daniel's funeral.
 
One of those is Jessica Poyer.  Her sister Karen's family lives next door to the Barden family in Newtown.  Poyer says during the eulogy at Daniel's service, a message by a Barden family member hit home with everyone.  That message she says, to make the lives of people better, "Our goal here with the Mudfest is to really bring people outside, create a sense of community and link these two areas together.  We're all the same kind of people and we're all here for the same goal to really just live a happy and joyful life."
 
Fifty percent of the proceeds from the Saturday's mudfest will benefit Sandy Hook Promise, the Newtown, CT community organization set up after the tragedy.  The other fifty percent will stay here in Central New York, being donated to The Center for Family Life and Recovery which provides rehabilitation and assistance for people here in our area who are recipients of mental health services.
 
Center for Family Life and Recovery Center Programs Director Judy Reilly attended Saturday's event, "What a wonderful sign of support, friendship and community.  It's just amazing."
 
Reilly says the money donated will be used to help many people here in our area, "Through counseling, training, recovery and advocacy.  Our COMPEER program is a mentoring program for youth, adults and veterans with mental illness and substance use issues."
 
Matt St. Peter of Deansboro volunteered his time on Saturday as the Official Race Starter.  St. Peter says this event is amazing, and it not only helps heal, but helps remember each victim as well as their surviving family members, "Daniel Barden and the Barden family.  We remember all those kids that lost their lives at Sandy Hook in Newtown.  This community came together.  Communities from all over the country came together for a great cause, for what we're really on this earth for, is to help each other out and to be there for each other."
 
Organizers say 1,100 people participated in last year's first annual Daniel Barden Highland Mudfest, and expected that number to be even higher this year, with some new events, including a full 5-mile race.
 

No word yet on an official number just yet or how much money was raised, but officials say more than 160 from the Newtown, CT area were among this year's participants. 

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