AKRON, Ohio - With ribbons pinned over heavy hearts, the races went on Tuesday night at Akron's Derby Downs BMX bike track.
Missing from the course and the stands though were four regulars, Russ and Gudrun, their son Bryan and his daughter Autumn. The four were gunned down along with three others Sunday by 51-year-old Michael Hance, police said. An act of violence that most here this night still struggle to understand.
"The Johnsons were a huge part of this BMX family," said Michael Flickinger. "They were always volunteers that could be counted on, people that could be counted on. The family is synonymous with BMX," she said.
Because of that, organizers seriously considered canceling this week's rite of summer.
"It was a hard decision on the part of the board whether or not to hold the race but we believe this is what Russ and Gerdie would have wanted and we know Autumn would have been here she was a rider," added Flickinger.
Someone who rode with Autumn and also worked last summer for her grandfather in his upholstery shop was Brandon Roharik.
"The past couple of days have just been really, really tough on me," he said. "They were a big part of my life."
But in riding Tuesday, Brandon and his friends were able to focus, if ever so briefly, on something other than this tragedy and that, organizers said, was what they were hoping to see.
"Right now, to hear the kids start to laugh again that's key," said Flickinger. "I'm starting to feel that the healing is starting to come together that's what we're looking for we're a family when family's hurt, we all hurt."