The Horsefly parking lot was full Tuesday evening, with vehicles also lined up and down the block on Main Street leading up to the brewpub. Their drivers had come to support the late Connor Imus.
“It’s very overwhelming to see the blessings from the community,” Connor’s mom, Emily said. “… It’s also heartbreaking because of the reason why we’re here.”
Added Connor’s father, Matt: “It’s huge to see all of this community support. We felt it from the night when (Connor’s brother) J.T. posted on Instagram that Connor was missing.”
That support will help keep Connor’s name alive in an upcoming scholarship.
The Montrose High School basketball standout hoped to play in college but was worried how he was going to for school. And since there’s plenty of other students who face that challenge, Connor’s family have set up a scholarship that will soon-to-be college athletes.
“We want to help a guy or girl pursue their athletic dreams,” said Matt.
The Imus family got help for the scholarship from Horsefly which donated a $1 a pint and a portion of food sales from that day. Additionally, Canyon Creek Bed and Breakfast owner Kendra Morrow set up a silent auction during the event.
Before he passed away in a drowning accident in May, Connor was actively pursuing his dream of playing college hoops, his mom said. He certainly had the talent as he received an All-State honorable mention nod last season, in addition to, receiving two-straight All-Southwestern League first-team honors.
Even though his dream won’t become a reality, the Imus family hopes to make sure other high school graduates’ similar hopes can be realized.
The first year for the scholarship will be for an MHS student who was in Connor’s class. But the goal is to open it up to any graduate in the surrounding areas, Matt said.
“We want to give back to somebody who has the same dream, and we can help contribute to and make that happen,” Emily said. “We’re trying to find something good amid such a hard loss for us.”
It’s a tough loss that happened two months ago. Connor, 17, died after falling into the South Canal along with his dog, which also died.
Matt said since then “every day is a struggle.” When he goes into work at the Montrose Community Recreation Center some days, he has to come in later, while other times he’s halfway to the rec and has to turn around and go home.
“That’s where he spent so much time practicing,” Matt said. “We would work out there. He would come to see me in my office. It’s day-to-day.”
As for Emily, she’s “hanging in there.” She said she’s gone back to work, and tried to discover “our new normal” without her son.
“It’s still heart-wrenching. He was a huge part of our lives, and we just miss him every single day,” she said.
But the Imus family wants to turn this tradgedy into a positive outlook for high school graduates. And on Tuesday evening, they got closer to their goal.
Matt thanked Horsefly owners Phil and Melaine Freismith for letting the fundraiser be held there and Morrow for setting up the auction.
“I couldn’t be more thankful for the community support,” said Emily. “I’m just in awe for everybody that came together.”
Another fundraiser, a softball tournament, will be held this weekend. About 40 teams ranging from Colorado to Utah will participate in the competition.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Connor. To donate, visit gofundme.com and search for Connor Imus.
Additionally, residents can share their stories of Connor on forevermissed.com. Matt said he appreciates reading the anecdotes that people have already shared about his son.
“It’s tear-jerking but heartwarming,” Matt said.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.