Teen driver to honor late brother's memory in derby

ContributedSixteen-year-old Skylar Maryon, of Walton, sits atop the derby car that will honor her late brother, Gabe. The car is painted in colors representing suicide prevention.

Walton resident Skylar Maryon is getting behind the wheel to raise awareness for suicide prevention.

Maryon, 16, plans to participate in the demolition derby at the Otsego County Fair in remembrance of her older brother, Gabe. Maryon is the sixth of 12 children and Gabe, she said, was the second oldest.

“On Aug. 5 (at 7 p.m.), I’m derbying a car in Morris and that car is to represent suicide awareness,” Maryon said. “The backstory is, my brother committed suicide four years ago, on June 15, 2017. He was 22 and the car was his car. We worked on it and then got it painted teal and purple; it’s like how pink is for breast cancer, suicide awareness colors are teal and purple.” The car, Maryon said, is a Saturn five-speed.

“Three of her uncles, Josh, Heath and Jeff, helped with the car and helped put it together,” Jessica Gilmore, Maryon’s mother, said. “The big thing she’s done to get ready is learn how to drive a stick shift. And we had a special guy paint the car, because we really wanted it to represent suicide awareness.”

Maryon, who said she also lost a 13-year-old cousin to suicide about 10 years ago, said she’s planned to drive in a demolition derby since she was “really little.”

“I’ve always wanted to derby, but since my brother passed away, I wanted to use his car, specifically,” she said. 

Maryon credited her family and community with cultivating an interest in the derby.

“(Gabe) was into it a little bit, but it was mainly just growing up with a lot of brothers and in Walton,” she said. “Walton is known for the derby.”

Maryon, who is home-schooled, said she has shared her plans with only close friends and her boss at Daisy Queens Ice Cream.

“Everyone I have told is pretty supportive,” she said. “They’re a little scared, just because it’s my first (derby), but they’re happy and excited.”

Maryon said she is feeling “a little nervous, but excited,” as derby day approaches.

Gilmore said her daughter’s desire to raise awareness goes beyond the derby.

“We do a lot of suicide awareness,” she said. “We do walks in September for suicide awareness — there’s one in Delhi we go to and one here in Walton that’s through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I’m proud of her. Skylar’s also a volunteer firefighter for Walton and she’s just joining the emergency squad, so soon she’ll be a volunteer EMS. I think it’s cool that she’s making people aware of it and suicide numbers are pretty high right now.

“Skylar tells a lot of people that their life matters,” Gilmore continued. “She wants you to know, your life matters. That’s one thing she says to people. She’s a pretty caring kid.”

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