Metro-East News

Vigil, 5K organized for metro-east family who lost two children in car accident

Almost three weeks after a metro-east mother and her children were in a critical crash, organizers are planning a 5K run and candlelight vigil to honor the two children who died in the accident.

On July 18, Christina Bereda and her family were hit by a semi in Indiana near Terra Haute, police say. The crash killed 1-year-old Finley Bereda and 5-year-old Brennen Bereda, while Christina Bereda, 33, and Jorden Bereda, 3, were taken to a hospital.

The run/walk and candlelight vigil will take place at Rock Springs Park in O’Fallon on September 22 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A deacon from St. Clare Church, where the Beredas are members, will lead a ceremony and prayer. Local country artist Coy Taylor will also sing at the event.

Dr. Christina Bereda is a doctor and the medical director at Express Medical Care in Fairview Heights and her husband and the children’s father is Dr. David Bereda, who works at Scott Air Force Base.

After the accident, friends and supporters immediately started multiple fundraisers and charities for the family. A crowdfunding page started by a family friend raised almost $100,000 as of Sunday. On July 28, members of the Belleville Running Club ran in the rain to show their support.

A charity page called Run for Bereda started by running group Mama Docs Run This, of which Christina Bereda is a member, raised nearly $35,000 by the end of July, and people had run at least 4,250 miles in honor of the family by Sunday.

Emi Ponce de Souza, who organized Run for Bereda, said she has been amazed at the support shown for the family.

“It’s (Run for Bereda) grown so much, far beyond the little running community we have,” Ponce de Souza said. “We partnered with another group of mom-physicians, the page has been shared so many times and we’ve had so many donors. It’s all just working kind of beautifully.”

Those who participate in Run for Bereda are encouraged to share their post-run photo with the hashtag ‘RunForBereda.’ About 150 posts have been shared on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag.

“There’s nothing any of us can do to make this right,” Ponce de Souza said. “We just have to show them we’re with them, to show them their precious babies won’t be forgotten.”

Kaley Johnson: 618-239-2526, @KaleyJohnson6