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Running club takes over memorial upkeep

LAWTON, Okla._A Lawton woman who's been struggling to maintain her brother's memorial after he was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing said a group of angels has stepped in to help.

Bernice McGee had a memorial erected for her brother, Clarence Wilson, a Lawton native,

On the corner of 6th Street and F. Over the last few years, she hasn't been able to keep up with the maintenance of the memorial.

After watching the 20th anniversary piece we aired last week, several members of RunLawton, decided they would take over its upkeep and spent the afternoon, picking weeds and re-planting the flower beds.

When we spoke with Bernice McGee last week, she said she hadn't been by her brother's memorial in years, that its dismal appearance depressed her. Monday, however she with me at the monument and said god sent her angels to bring her something positive this special anniversary.

McGee has reached out to the community for volunteers willing to help take care of her brother's memorial in the past, but she said no one answered her call for help until Sunday afternoon.

"I came up here and I saw all these people working, and I knew it was for real. I'm just grateful, my family is grateful," McGee said.

Rose McCollum of RunLawton said they spent Sunday afternoon restoring Wilson's monument to its original luster.

"We got together to try and clean it up and make it look presentable again so she can enjoy it," McCollum said.

Neither McCollum nor fellow club member Daniel Hull were in Oklahoma when the bombing happened, but both say the incident had a lasting effect and made the restoration that much more important.

"I was young at the time, but I still remember when it happened," Hull said.

"It touched our hearts to hear the story, everything that Clarence meant to her and her family, and the community itself," McCollum said.

It took the club almost 4 hours to get years' worth of weeds pulled, the water fountain running, and flowers planted, but McCollum said it was all worth.

"Bernice was so very grateful," McCollum said.

"I cried because, it just, I was speechless,” McGee said.

McCollum and Hull work three blocks from the monument, and say they will check up on it daily; assuring Bernice she has nothing to worry about and can finally visit her brother's memorial again.

"These are my angels," McGee said.

RunLawton will be participating in the Oklahoma City Memorial Run next Sunday. They broke the news to Bernice Monday that they will be wearing bibs with "Clarence Wilson" printed on them, and will be running in his honor.

The club has talked with the city of Lawton about getting the street lights around the memorial fixed to discourage vandals, and said due to water restrictions, the fountain will only continue to run as long as Mother Nature supplies the water.

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