Holding balloons and wearing burgundy and blue T-shirts bearing David Pollard’s picture, family and friends remembered the Carver High School baseball coach at Carver Park with a celebration on Saturday, two days before what would have been his 37th birthday.
Adrienne Leonard Pollard said her husband normally would extend the celebration, but the special day was an opportunity to share with the community. “He would celebrate it all month long, so it didn’t feel right not to celebrate it,” she said. “We will do a month, but I think they have a memorial baseball game on April 25. We are going to go the whole month, but we just wanted to come out and share with the community that supported us.”
The celebration came 11 months after the 36-year-old coach died April 18 after the driver of a stolen Audi went through a red light and struck the coach’s silver Chevrolet sedan at the intersection of Buena Vista and Andrew roads. Pollard’s car then struck a third vehicle after the collision on the left side of a Chevy Impala.
The family has filed a claim against the city in connection with the crash, contending it occurred after a suspect was chased by police. William C. Cross, the accused driver of the Audi, was arrested two weeks later and charged with homicide by vehicle, felony murder and theft by taking auto in the deadly collision.
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Since the crash, Adrienne said they haven’t always gotten up everyday. “Some days, it’s been really, really hard, but we’re just choosing as a family to focus on the time that we had with him and how grateful we are in the experiences that we had with him,” she said. “We want to just continue his mission of uplifting the youth of Columbus.”
Adrienne wanted family and friends to enjoy their time together and make memories with them. “It’s not the things or running from here to there,” she said. “Just don’t waste time, because you don’t know how much you are going to have.”
Terry and Sandra Pollard Render, the coach’s parents, find strength that his 10-year-old daughter, Joy, is still here to remind them of David. “It’s been hard, but knowing that his daughter is still here has given me energy to get up and keep trying for her,” Sandra said. “It’s been hard. I miss him so much. There’s something more powerful than just being here, and I will see him again one day.”
Sandra, 56, said her granddaughter, who is in the fourth grade, reflects her name. “She brings joy to us in just hearing her voice and knowing that she is a part of him, and that is what’s left of him that I can touch and feel,” she said. “I miss his touch. I miss just everything about him giving me hugs.”
With music blaring and children playing in bouncy houses at the celebration, Terry looked at those gathered and smiled. He said there is love in the atmosphere, much like David shared with the community. He said the coach was very concerned about helping the youth in his work with the baseball team. “A lot of young people came out today,” he said. “I want them to take away that you might only be here a short time but accomplish so much in the days and time that God gives us.”
Getting people together meant a lot to David, his father said. “It would mean a lot to David because David loved people,” Terry said. “To have everybody get together to celebrate his life would mean so much to him, his legacy with good deeds, good action, good foundations and mentoring. I think this will be an opportunity to spread that message.”
Through it all, Terry said his faith has help the family heal. “But you know every day is a challenge,” he said.
Terry, 58, said his own life was in the balance two days after burying his son when he collapsed on the living room floor at home. He was stricken by a heart attack but believes it was something else. He asked God to give him strength to keep going.
“I think it was heartbreak,” he said of his son’s death. “I think it just broke my heart so much. On my living room floor, I told Him, ‘please, not now.’ My family was going through so much. He saved me.”
Terry is recovering after bypass surgery and rehabilitation. “Christ is the thread that sews and binds everything together,” he said. “Me and my wife have never been closer. God challenges us, but he won’t put a burden on us we can’t bear.”