It has been four years.

Many tough days and long nights have come and gone since Talon Fletcher passed away, but the Maud teen left a legacy as strong today as it was when he was alive.

It has been four years.

Many tough days and long nights have come and gone since Talon Fletcher passed away, but the Maud teen left a legacy as strong today as it was when he was alive.

His legacy lives on through a scholarship in his honor, his family and the community that wrapped its arms around them in the days, weeks and years since a tragic accident claimed his life.

On a hazy, overcast Oklahoma day, Talon Fletcher attempted to cross the highway with a friend to get to another spot on the Little River. Fletcher never saw an oncoming car and the driver never saw him.

Fletcher’s ATV was struck and he was gravely injured. The impact would have killed most helmetless riders instantly, but Fletcher was a strong young man – he was 6 feet, 4 inches tall and was named the district lineman of the year as a sophomore just months before.

His mother, Crystal Sparks, doesn’t remember much about the minutes after the crash, but she does remember how many community members were there at the scene and at OU Medical Center in the next six days as Fletcher fought for his life in ICU. His accident occurred on May 17, 2013. He died May 23.

Fletcher was larger than life and died far too young, but he made a difference in life, with his death and he is still having an impact on lives four years after he died.

That impact on lives is what keeps his mother and younger sister Jocee Sparks positive despite the enormous hole his death left in their lives.

“God took Talon for a reason,” Jocee said. “ His legacy affected the entire town.”

One of the ways his death moved the community was in how many Maud students went to Falls Creek church camp with his church the summer after the accident.

“There is peace in finding the reasons in it,” Crystal said. “It’s bigger than us.”

A more immediate impact came due to Fletcher being an organ donor.

“He saved four lives the day he died,” Crystal said. “All of the recipients are doing well. Talon would have been proud to know that.”

Another way his legacy continues is in the athletic achievements of his younger sisters who are both Maud High School athletes now.

Westie Sparks will be a sophomore next year and she is already making an impact. She wears No. 10 because that was Talon’s number in basketball.

Jocee’s number is a little more unique. You don’t see many girls wearing No. 70 in softball. But in fast pitch and slow pitch seasons, you will see the Creighton University commitment wearing that number on her back and also writing it in the dirt with her bat before every swing.

She isn’t one to hold back when people ask why she wears the unique number and writes it in the dirt.

“I want people to know about him, to remember him like I do,” Jocee said. “He always wanted me to wear his number. I like it when people ask questions because I like telling people about him. I hope they want to be like him, too.”

Crystal said Talon loved his family. She and her husband and their daughters, his father, his new wife and their younger son all care about each other and they all loved Talon.

His coach, Bruce Harrell who is leaving Maud this year for Empire, agreed.

“Everyone who ever met Talon liked him,” Coach Harrell said. “His dad was an all-stater at Maud and Talon was on his way. He was district offensive lineman of the year as a sophomore and was just starting to tap his potential.”

Crystal said that the love of his family and friends was an important part of Talon’s life.

“That’s what made him how he was,” Crystal said. “Everyone loved him. He was a great big momma’s boy. He and Jocee were inseparable.”

Jocee said she was glad she spent so much time with her brother during the 13 years she had with him. One of her regrets is that her little sister, who was only 10 when he died, wasn’t able to spend more time with him.

“I wish Westie could have known him like I did,” Jocee said. “We know he is still watching us now. Westie was great in the state tournament this spring.”

Jocee said Talon always told her she would be a Division One athlete and she is already signed with Creighton who plays in the Big East Conference.

Even though it was early in his football career, he was already gaining interest from major college programs. But his dream was still to play for the Bison at OBU.

“I know it was because he wanted to be close to home,” Crystal said.

Crystal said before the accident, she was sold on the people of Maud. But after the accident and in the four years that have followed, she wouldn’t raise her kids anywhere else.

“They took care of us after the crash,” she said. “They raised my kids for six days while we were in the hospital with him. The whole football team was in the hall supporting us when he died. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.”

She said that support has continued with people wearing wristbands that tout the logo #Live70. That is also the name of the scholarship that donations help support every year. The money for college goes to a student athlete that represents the characteristics that Talon did when he played.

One generous Maud resident even donated the headstone that would adorn his gravesite.

If you see it, there is a good chance you will find a penny there. Actually, you’ll probably find a lot of pennies.

“You know the saying ‘pennies are from Heaven’? Well we call these ‘Talon pennies,’” Jocee said.

In the days after his death, the family would find pennies in strange places with no explanation.

“They would show up in the weirdest places,” Jocee said. “Westie found one in her dance shoe, I found one on third base before a state tournament game. I don’t know why, but I like to think it is him somehow.”

Dealing with a loss this large is never easy, but the support of a community and the chance to keep a legacy alive have helped Talon Fletcher’s family cope in the years since he died.

“A parent isn’t supposed to bury a child,” Crystal said. “That isn’t how it should work. But the community helped us – they are still helping us – deal with it and Jocee and Westie get to play a part in keeping his memory alive.”