The Perryville community was in mourning this week as they remembered Cody Richardson, an athlete, friend, son and sibling who was killed in a car crash last week.
Mr. Richardson, a recent Perryville High School graduate and 2011 state track champion, was a passenger in his friend's SUV on July 13 when the vehicle veered off Red Toad Road near North East and rolled several times. He died at Union Hospital inElkton.
Steven Thornton, of Port Deposit, a teammate and friend of Mr. Richardson who also recently graduated from Perryville High School, was driving at the time of the crash and sustained serious non-life-threatening injuries. The second passenger, Brady Alan McDaniel, 18, of Colora, was also taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The 18-year-old Mr. Richardson was laid to rest this week following services Tuesday at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Aberdeen.
"He might have been the most hardworking kid I've ever known," Kelsey Diehl, hurdles coach for Perryville High School, said Wednesday. Mr. Richardson was one of the state's best hurdlers.
Diehl was tearful as she shared her memories of the teen.
"He changed my life not only as a person, but also in my professional outlook," Diehl said. "I tried to make an impact in his life, but he made a huge impact in mine."
Jake Moore, head coach for cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams for Perryville, also had nothing but good things to say about Mr. Richardson.
"He's tough to wrap up because he really was a good kid," Moore said.
Moore spoke at Mr. Richardson's funeral service Tuesday and said he was honored to be one of three people asked to speak.
Moore said he first met Mr. Richardson's sister, Cara Richardson.
"His sister was a state champion as an athlete for Perryville and her younger brother came along and freshmen year he played baseball," Moore said.
After the season ended, Mr. Richardson participated in a winter fitness program, and Moore said he saw Mr. Richardson's talent for track and field start to show.
"It just seemed like it was meant to be," Moore said.
As a sophomore, Mr. Richardson joined the track team, but it took a while for him to become its star.
"He had so many setbacks," Moore said, adding, "every time he'd get down he'd just get back up."
Moore said the young man faced memory challenges as well as challenges meeting self-set goals.
"He had trouble at birth and one of the long term effects that he had, basically the only thing, was forgetfulness," Moore said.
Moore explained the coaching staff would write events on Mr. Richardson's hand and write out workout regimens so he wouldn't forget. He added that there was hardly a time Mr. Richardson didn't forget his uniform or lock his shoes in the car.
"Sometimes it was a blessing and sometimes it was a curse, the kid could never stay mad because he couldn't remember what he was mad about," Moore said.
Moore said the forgetfulness wasn't intentional and the coaching staff was comfortable making a few extra reminders.
"We never minded doing it because he was such a phenomenal worker, a phenomenal kid and a great athlete," Moore said. "You knew he was going to respond, he was going to do his part, he just needed direction."
Moore said there were also several times that Mr. Richardson faced setbacks in competition.
"As a junior he qualified for states by winning the 300 meter hurdles at regionals," Moore said. "He was disqualified because he had a silly band on."
Moore said Mr. Richardson was disappointed earlier this year when he placed second in the 110 meter hurdles in the state competition.
"He was so mad, we were proud, but he was mad," Moore said, explaining that the young man expected a lot from himself.
Mr. Richardson went on to win the state title in the 300 meter hurdles.
"Talent got him very far but his hard work got him to be a champion," Moore said.
Moore said Mr. Richardson, Thornton and Anthony Hayden were at the center of this year's winning team that won both the UCBAC track and field division and the Class 1A north region title.
"We had a core of three guys and Cody, he was the center of that," Moore said.
In addition to being a hard worker and a talented athlete, both Diehl and Moore said Mr. Richardson was a kind person and full of life.
"He loved the 'Jersey Shore,'" Moore said. "He showed up at practice one day with a blowout hair cut."
Diehl also recalled the young man's love of the television show.
"He'd always talk about how he had to, right after practice, go to the gym and then go tanning," Diehl said, laughing. "It always related back somehow to the 'Jersey Shore.'"
Diehl said Mr. Richardson was a big fan of the character Pauly D.
"It was never a dull moment at our a hurdle practices," Diehl said.
She said those on the team were always breaking out new dance moves or keeping the mood light and Mr. Richardson was a big part of that.
"The smile on his face, it lit up everything," Diehl said.
Even with his fun loving side, Diehl and Moore both remember him as someone who gave things his all.
"He always gave it 100 percent," Diehl said, adding, "He was a very respectful kid."
Moore felt the same, saying Mr. Richardson was always trying to get a smile out of those around him.
Moore said other teachers at the school also recognized the young man's kindness and positive attitude.
"Teachers would pair him with kids who would get picked on because Cody was never mean," Moore said. "He was always nice, that's all he could be."
Although Cody was a great athlete and a good looking kid, Moore said, it never went to his head.
"Every girl wanted to date this kid and every guy wanted to be just like him and Cody had no idea," Moore said.
Moore said there were at least 15 to 20 faculty members at Mr. Richardson's services Tuesday.
"I think yesterday made things a little easier," Diehl said of the services, "but it's a hard loss to take because he had a lot going for him after high school."
Mr. Richardson had planned to attend and run track and field atHoward Community College.
Cody Glen Richardson is survived by his parents, Libby and Glen Richardson, his brother, Wesley Richardson, and sister, Cara Richardson, as well as several aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great grandparents.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun