COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — In February of 2017, the body of 21 year-old Reagan Tokes was found in Scioto Grove Metro Park, the same place her family created Reagan’s Garden, a memorial for her.
It’s also where her family and the foundation honoring her memory, The Reagan Delaney Memorial Foundation, held its first “Rally for Reagan” event in two years after halting it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Usually a gala event, the Foundation decided to change it up this year to a 5k walk and run, an activity Tokes’ mother, Lisa McCray-Tokes, said they did together.
“Reagan was a runner along with myself as well so it was a fitting theme to do this and be able to be outside and enjoy nature,” McCrary-Tokes said.
A memory lifelong friend, Sarah Jankowski, shares of Tokes as well.
“I think this is really incredible and special for the community as well as myself,” Jankowski said. “Reagan ran through high school, too, and always inspired me because I thought she was crazy for running distance in high school when we could be playing tennis, so she was always a really inspirational friend in that way.”
Beyond making the event an activity Tokes shared with those she loved, holding the event in the park where her body was found was important to try to create positivity around her life, legacy, and memory.
“Obviously something really tragic and awful like this really what you would prefer to do is put the covers over your head and not get out of bed,” said McCrary-Tokes. “But Reagan had such an amazing spirit about her, and she was always wanting to help and give to others, and so for us not to find a way to make something positive out of something so tragic would not be doing justice to her legacy and memory.”
It’s even more important for the Foundation and family to keep holding these events in Ohio despite living out of state.
“With legislative work, we’re still not done in Ohio,” said Tokes’ sister, Makenzie Tokes. “And until we finish in Ohio we’re not going to move on to anything else, but having the events be held in Ohio is so important.”
The family is still trying to pass the second half of the Reagan Tokes Act, which focuses on closing gaps in the state’s legislation, focusing on how ex-prisoners are tracked by law enforcement after release.
Tokes’ killer committed several violent robberies leading up to the kidnapping, rape, and murder of the OSU student, all while being out on parole for a previous kidnapping and attempted rape charge. He was wearing a GPS tracker at the time, but was not being actively monitored.
“I think it’s just critical to do something year over year,” said Jankowski. “Just to keep awareness going because it is something that is such a critical broken piece in our system.”
Beyond trying to bring more change to Ohio’s criminal justice system, the Reagan Delaney Tokes Memorial Foundation has raised more than $300,000 which is awarded as scholarships for continued education, another important piece to Tokes’ memory; Reagan was set to graduate from OSU just months after her death.
The 5K run and walk finish line was placed at Reagan’s Garden, where her mother invited those participating to meditate and reflect following the race.
“This is where she was found, so dark and tragic, but we’ve created a beautiful space here,” said McCray-Tokes. “That is full of love and light and the energy that was the essence of Reagan and it just seemed fitting to have the finish line end up there.”
Tokes’ sister said the turnout at the 5K event five and a half years after the tragedy speaks to the person Tokes was and the impact she and her story have made.
“It’s definitely overwhelming,” said Makenzie Tokes when asked about the continued support at “Rally for Reagan” events. “And it just shows the true testament of Reagan’s character and the people that she touched and people that don’t even know her really wanting to come out and support.”
For more information on the foundation, click here.