By: Veronica Burniston
Downtown Mountain City rumbled to life Friday, August 2, 2013, as the third annual Joe Barlow and Kim Sutton Memorial Event colored West Main Street in motorcycles, muscle cars, and authentic automobile antiques. Beginning around 6 p.m., families, friends, and car enthusiasts ventured through the collection of prized classics, special editions, and custom-built vehicles and motorcycles that sported themselves, hoods propped, to the passing eyes. As the smell of barbeque and popcorn scented the air and the laughter of children waiting to get their faces painted echoed throughout the crowd, the vast gathering of familiar and unfamiliar faces sparked an unforgettable evening of excitement, wonder, and a joy for life that both Barlow and Sutton once shared with the people of Johnson County, Tennessee.
Joe Barlow, the Vice Deputy Director of the Johnson County Rescue Squad and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), served Johnson County diligently for nearly 20 years before an accident in the line of duty claimed his life. According to Barlows sister, Mrs. Nancy Barlow DeBord-Bentley, he was an encourager, a man who chose to see hope when others might have only noticed the shadows in life. At the memorial event, Barlows family created a commemoration table that held a picture, a basket full of magnets, and some customized pens for the event. Inscribed on the magnet was a single verse of scripture: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13 KJV).
Also honored at the memorial event was Kim Sutton, who worked as an employee of the Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center for over a decade. She was diagnosed with cancer and eventually became a patient of the Care Center herself. And after a long and hard-fought battle, Sutton passed away. Similar to Barlow, Sutton was also an encourager, serving her community with diligence and love. The Joe Barlow/Kim Sutton Scholarship, offered to graduating seniors who plan to pursue a career in the medical field, reflects both the generosity and inspiration of these two beloved members of the medical profession.
During the first half of the memorial event on Friday evening, automobiles and motorcycles lined Main Street from the courthouse to the parking lot of First Baptist Church. A flood of Harley Davidsons covered the first half of the right shoulder. On the far left, down the solid yellow lines in the center, and following the motorcycles on the right, sat car after car, hood popped, ready to be admired. Fathers walked the aisles with their children, telling them about the different models and engines. Grandfathers, accompanied by their grandsons, stopped to reminisce over the earlier models of cars still on the market today. There was everything from a custom-made Reverse Trike to a 1971 Mach 1 to a 2009 Dodge Challenger to a dragster positioned out front of Teammates Pizza. With the music of All In, a local band performing at the event, and vendors offering homemade ice cream, 50¢ Krispy Kreme donuts, face painting, raffle tickets to win a motorcycle, and more, it would have been quite the challenge to not enjoy oneself. Even after the night set in and the street lights shone like stars downtown, the fundraisers green shirts still flourished as people continued to arrive and relive the excitement of those that preceded them.
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