By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — In order to honor the fallen we must live our own lives well.
Sgt. Devin Snyder Ride to Remember has honored her legacy for several years. On June 4 it closed one chapter in the foundation. The Sgt. Devin Snyder Memorial Foundation will continue to impact lives all over the country.
Sgt. Devin Snyder was killed in action on June 4, 2011 in Afghanistan. Devin entered the world with a demand to be heard. She was known for her sassy personality, and lighting up a room with her smile. She mentored many of the track and soccer teams at Wayland-Cohocton Central. Her love for animals and the military has been honored over the years since her passing. Devin had a huge heart for the community she called home. Everyone who was lucky enough to know this beautiful young lady called her friend.
Kevin Mark, Wayland American Legion post commander said the ride may be ending but there is a new chapter on the horizon. Her memory will continue to live on for many years to come.
“I can’t believe how fast this decade has gone by. The first year was rocky, but after that it really kicked off. I know we will take this and morph it into something else. There will be a new chapter ahead on this journey. We will keep the ideals Devin left behind about supporting military and the Sheriff’s Canine Unit. This legacy will continue at the legion. This story will not end,” he said.
Dineen Snyder, Devin’s mother thanked everyone who has been involved or supported this ride over the years.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported us over the years. Without all of these generous volunteers we couldn’t have done it. I know the impact of what we have done here will trickle down,” she said.
Emily Duffy, Sgt. Devin Snyder Ride to Remember volunteer and friend said she grew up on track and soccer with Devin.
“She was a twig so we all came up with the nickname Twiggy. She was so fast at Long Distance running. She really was a tom boy. We would dress her up and take her way out of her comfort zone. Devin was a lot of fun to be around,” she said.
Those who were honored this year are Warrior Canine Connection ($2,500) and Eagle Star Housing ($2,500). Warrior Canine Connection has named a dog after Devin. Devin just gave birth to a litter of six boys and four girls. This organization pioneers the Mission Based
Trauma Recovery model to empower returning combat veterans who have sustained physical or psychological wounds in serving our country.
Eagle Star Housing provides short-term and permanent housing for homeless, low income, and at-risk veterans with their families. The 15-bed housing unit for veterans and homeless is in East Pembroke,. Future locations include Seneca Falls, Bath and Canandaigua.
Tiffany Drum, Devin’s cousin recalls being a child when the news came in about her passing. She broke down crying in class the day after the funeral. To honor the life her cousin led she got a tattoo of Devin’s birth flower on her arm.
“I got this tattoo as a way to remember her. She was always spunky and wasn’t afraid to be herself. I have been coming to this ride every year to honor her. It always means a lot to see the impact she left behind. She still means so much to me,” she said.
Drum remembers to bring flowers every year to Devin’s final resting place. Her grave is close to home. Drum brings them on her first-cousins birthday. She shares updates about her life with Devin.
Wayland-Cohocton Football and Soccer Coach Jeff Englert said he will always remember the impact Devin left behind. Englert shared the story about how his daughter, Alyssa and Devin got a soccer camp at Punky Hollow.
“Alyssa and Devin wanted to do overnights at the Punky Hollow for soccer camp. Gene (Miller) cleared over 100 trees to create a field for us there. He made the ultimate sports complex there with a huge field, barn, offices, and overnight accommodations. The girls all slept in the bunkbeds in the barn. Gene really kicked butt for these girls. He has been very supportive of these girls,” he said. “We had about 30 kids up there at one point. It has been a very unique experience for the team.”
Miller shared his prayers and thoughts about the life that Devin left behind. He shared the letter that Alyssa wrote to him with this local reporter.
“What a teammate said…
Devin was one of my bestfriends. A great teammate. An even better person. She was a great mentor to me as a younger athlete. She showed me how to be a good teammate and encouraged others when it counts. Devin has and will forever impact me as I pay it forward with my younger teammates here in our great community,” Alyssa wrote.
Miller said we can’t ever let the torch go out. It will continue through the legacy that Devin shared with her hometown.
“I had the privilege of coaching all of these great gals. Devin was an excellent soccer player. What she brought to the team was leadership and encouraging her other teammates. She was very fast on track too. She had a fiery personality. She passed on her great leadership skills with the other girls. Devin is an example of what happens when you plant good seeds in the ground and get a good crop,” he said.
Miller added that he has a great amount of respect for her service to our country.
“She was very dedicated to her service in the military. I respect her service to our country. With everything happening in Ukraine we are seeing a whole new perspective and understanding of how the military put their lives at risk for us. I have tremendous respect for the military,” he said.
Alyssa Englert is a long-time friend of Devin. She met her in eighth grade track. She was on the varsity team with Devin. She talked about breaking down crying at the funeral. She got the news of her friends passing the next day. Alyssa lives her life honoring the memory of her best friend.
Several members of Sgt. Devin Snyder’s unit were present at the last ride. Many of them coming for the first time. There were 350 riders to support the cause. Sgt. Devin Snyder will live on in all who loved her. She sacrificed herself to save her unit. Her story is not over yet.