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Dylan Ballard’s mother at ‘Hanover Strong’ gathering: ‘We are so thankful’

Posted at 12:16 AM, May 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-29 23:42:58-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- A community gathered Saturday to honor those lost and find strength to move forward from grief at the  “Hanover Strong” celebration at Mechanicsville Christian Center.

The community gathering included worship, speakers, prayer with church leaders, and song.

One of the speakers was Donna Ballard. Her son Dylan Ballard died in a car crash on Cold Harbor Road April 23. He was a senior at Lee Davis High School.

“God blessed us with 17 years with Dylan,” she told the crowd.

After the death of her son, Ballard is sharing a message of forgiveness.

“We hope to make a difference in just one person's life tonight because if we can make a difference in one then we've done what we are supposed to do,” Ballard said.

Community members donned Ballard t-shirts.

Community members donned Ballard t-shirts.

MCC church member Michael Goodman helped organize the event Saturday. He was also at the church the evening a viewing was held for Dylan Ballard.

“Three thousand came for a viewing here for a wreck that happened on Cold Harbor Road. Our prayer is that they will come back and they will find hope where they felt loss and where they were hurting," Goodman explained.

Goodman was one of many at Mechanicsville Christian Center who shared messages of support and hope.

“This is what the church is supposed to be we are supposed to be a place for healing and for people to come and find life,” he said.

A makeshift memorial marks the scene of the accident on on Cold Harbor Road.

A makeshift memorial marks the scene of the accident on on Cold Harbor Road.

Church member Andrew Buchanan attended the "Hanover Strong" celebration.

“I'm just here to let people know that mourning is a very important place to be, but if you stay there it will affect you personally," he said. "It's good to have that healing portion. It really helps the heart it helps everyone around you, so I’m just here to make sure people have that support.”

Donna Ballard expressed her appreciation for all the support her family has received.

“This community has just been amazing," Ballard said. "We are so thankful for everyone who has reached out to us, not just Hanover County, but all surrounding counties, and without my faith in God and this community, I don't know where we would be.”

Donna Ballard addresses the crowd.

Donna Ballard addresses the crowd.