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Published: Monday, 7/3/2006

Tribute set for crash victim

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Friends recall pediatrician Stephen Snedden, who specialized in critical care and pulmonology, for his optimism. Friends recall pediatrician Stephen Snedden, who specialized in critical care and pulmonology, for his optimism.
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Just a few days before Dr. Stephen Snedden was hit and killed by a drunken driver while cycling on West River Road, he came across a poem that moved him so much, he took copies home to his three daughters.

Entitled "The Dash," the poem tells of a woman speaking at the funeral of a friend about the symbolic timeline between the date of birth and death on her friend's gravestone, of how he spent that time in between.

"He really did fill his dash," Kim Reno said of Dr. Snedden. "He was constantly on the go. He did so much for his family. He was just loved by so many people."

Friends and co-workers of Dr. Snedden are planning a memorial bicycle ride Aug. 19 they've appropriately named "Ride 'The Dash.' "

"At his funeral, his pastor said, 'I don't usually like to end eulogies with poems, but I thought this was particularly appropriate,' and she read 'The Dash' without any pre-empting," Ms. Reno recalled. "She started reading it, and we all burst into tears."

Ms. Reno, a social worker at the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Toledo Children's Hospital, said the memorial ride is "a positive way to remember him and the positive impact he had on the patients and families who he touched in his life."

The ride also will be a fund-raiser for the Cystic Fibrosis

Foundation, which Dr. Snedden supported. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes the body to produce a thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections.

George Haig, a close friend of Dr. Snedden who is helping organize the ride, said the fund-raiser seemed like the perfect tribute. Dr. Snedden was a pediatrician who specialized in critical care and pulmonology at Toledo Children's Hospital.

"It was something that all of us wanted to do so people would remember Steve and what he stood for," Mr. Haig said. "The cause is certainly worthy. He would've liked nothing more than to find a cure for cystic fibrosis."

Mr. Haig, a pharmaceutical research scientist, was riding with Dr. Snedden and Dr. Mike Blake on Jan. 15 when a sport utility vehicle driven by David O'Neill, 61, of Rossford struck Dr. Snedden and Mr. Haig, who were riding single-file along State Rt. 65 just north of Five Point Road. Dr. Snedden, who was 47, was killed; Mr. Haig was hurt seriously.

O'Neill pleaded no contest May 15 in Wood County Common Pleas Court to aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, failure to stop after an accident, and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. He is to be sentenced July 14 by Judge Alan Mayberry.

Mr. Haig said that he, Dr. Blake, and Dr. Snedden's wife, Jennifer, plan to work at the memorial race but not ride in it.

"It's still a psychological barrier to getting on a bike and getting on the road," said Mr. Haig, who lives in Perrysburg. "I'm just not motivated right now to do it. I still have memories of riding with Steve, and I'll always have some type of fear of being on the road with cars. It's a big hurdle to overcome."

Mr. Haig said he and Dr. Snedden were friends for 14 years, and he could always count on him to lighten the air.

"He was always upbeat, never moody," Mr. Haig said. "Even when things weren't going well, he always had a positive face about him. He was very out-going and could talk to anybody at any time, including somebody he just met on the street."

Ms. Reno concurred.

"He was hardly ever serious," she said. "He was always telling jokes. He had us laughing all the time."

Sponsored by ProMedica Inc., Pediatric Pulmonary Associates, and Pfizer Inc., "Ride 'The Dash' " will offer participants rides of 10, 31, or 62 miles. Cyclists will leave from the Perrysburg YMCA. For more information, go to www.ridethedash.com.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-353-5972.



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