During the 2018 Cove House Classic Bike Tour at First Baptist Church, Sean Royal, a Marine Corps veteran and teacher in the Copperas Cove Independent School District, undertook an hours-long, 65-mile cycling stretch Saturday with a U.S. flag strapped to his bike, representing Flags4Fallen, an organization that recruits 5K,10K, half-marathon and marathon runners to carry U.S. flags in honor of those who have died.

After the ride, Royal spoke with Chuck Stephans, and the two men smiled.

The U.S. flag was given to the Copperas Cove High School Junior ROTC Bulldog Battalion color guard.

It was folded and presented to Stephans in his stepdaughter’s memory. Sarah Stephans, 18, died May 12 in a car accident in Williamson County.

Below an overcast Saturday sky, Stephans stood with a somber face behind black shades, which were above his black shirt with an image of Sarah smiling beside text, which read, “I love you so much.”

As cyclists whirred past him and young children frolicked, the memory of his stepdaughter still sat upon his shoulders.

“People really loved her. Everyone she met, they adored her,” Stephans said. “She had that warm personality. People were drawn to her.”

Royal knew Sarah Stephans as a student with a bright future in nursing.

Sarah Stephans was also an impactful suicide awareness advocate, according to Royal.

Sarah Stephans’ peers heard of her untimely death before anybody else, Royal said.

The news stung the teacher. “It really affected me, because she touched so many people in the community. She touched the kids in a way other presentations haven’t,” Royal said about Sarah Stephans’ activism.

“The kids have held onto the sadness longer than they would have for a relative stranger.”

“The community has turned out, and we’ve had a lot of support,” Chuck Stephans said. “She was a big loss to her family, friends and the community.”

mpayne@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7553

Herald staff writer

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