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Q&A with Karen Hancock: "We are still remembering him, we still miss him"

On Jan. 27, 2001, 10 members of the Oklahoma State family died in a plane crash in Colorado. Among them was William Hancock.

Hancock worked as a media relations coordinator at OSU. He joined the staff in 1996. 

After the crash, Kamon Simpson wrote in the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph, "We are a generation that communicates in sarcasm and irony, but Will's heart was too earnest -- too pure -- to shed some elemental courteousness the rest of us had abandoned. He was what people refer to when they use the term 'good person.' When you met him, you just knew he had a Jimmy Stewart uprightness about him. He was who we felt we all could be, but only when we try, really hard." 

Eighteen years later, Karen Hancock carried on her late husband’s legacy and participated in the Remember the Ten Run in Stillwater.

The Remember the Ten Run was held for the first time in 2006 as a way to honor the 10 victims who died on the plane crash. Since then, the Run has grown from a memorial event to an official event in the Oklahoma race calendar. More than 1,400 participants registered for the race in 2019, and all the proceeds were donated to the University Counseling Services. Friends and family members of the deceased also participated as a way to remember.

The O'Colly had a chance to speak with Karen Hancock after she finished the race Saturday.

Q: What does this run mean to you, especially because your husband was one of the passengers on that plane?

A: I always view this run as a celebration of his life. It’s really great to get family members coming in, and we are all gather and just celebrate who Will was and what he was all about and what a great guy he was. It’s a fun event, it’s a great day. We are really blessed today with some beautiful weather. It’s a great day to be out here remembering him and the other nine.

Q: You mentioned you have 84 friends and family members, and they are all wearing shirts representing Team Hancock during the run. How does it feel to have them come here and celebrate your husband’s life?

A: It tells me that they are supporting me, yes, but really, we are remembering Will. We all love Will and he meant a lot to us. It’s just a great way to say we are still remembering him and we still miss him. It means a lot for all these people to come in. I’ve got people who came from Texas, St. Louis and up from Florida. It just means a lot for them to come in for a couple days and be a part of this.

Q: Talking about your husband’s legacy, 18 years later and now his name is being used for a scholarship for students who are doing what he was at that time. How do you see his legacy being carried over?

A: Yeah, we have a scholarship for media relations graduate students. It means a lot that his name is carried forward. There is a little legacy there for the sports information department with his name on it. I love it, and I hope it goes on forever.

Q: Today there are a lot of families doing the same thing as yours, carrying their name on the back of their shirt. How do you feel the impact of this run helps carry on not only your husband, but the other people’s legacy?

A: That just comes to show you that all these guys were real. They were a really important part of their lives and they are missed. People show up and go out of their way to show up for the event every year. We see the Team [Pat] Noyes shirts and Team [Nathan] Fleming shirts. You just see they miss their guys. We all have that same experience, we come together and remember them. It is just really great to see them.

Q: As one of the founding members of the run, how have you seen it evolve from the first year to now?

A: I always love the idea of this run because the proceeds of this run go to the University Counseling Center. They were a very important part of the grieving process for me after the crash. I was certainly a person that never thought I was going to need counseling in my life. After suffering from such a horrific tragedy, I did and I needed help and started understand it’s OK to ask for help. So I’m all for supporting that service, and the fact this run benefits the service is wonderful. It's also wonderful because it brings everyone together every year and gives us a reason to come and be gathered, and it is a feel good moment.