John Flaiz tournament turns tragedy into hope

It was a memorial without any tears, the way John Flaiz would have wanted it.

Almost eight months have passed since Flaiz was lost on the Mississippi.
He went missing on August 27, after a boat collided with his near Hogback Island.

Family and friends held an event in his honor Saturday to turn a tragedy into a hopeful future for others.

"We're trying to keep today upbeat, happy and fun," Michelle Terwelp, Flaiz's fiance said. "If he was here, he would want us to do the same."

John may be gone, but his spirit is not. Terwelp is determined to keep his memory alive through children and his favorite sport.

"We were very involved with volleyball, and the YMCA came to us and asked if we wanted to host a tournament together to honor him, but also raise money for the Strong Kids Campaign," Terwelp said.

"All the money raised for the campaign goes to support youth development programs and financial assistance for youth and families so they can participate in programs and memberships," Amy Earnest, Quincy Family YMCA development director said.

Friends, family and even strangers came out to remember John and to support the campaign.

"I can't believe how, for the first year, how great of a turnout we had," Terwelp said. "There were 15 teams, so really it's just awesome to see how many people came out to support us and support him and to show how many people he actual knew and touched."

"Well, I knew him from around but not personally no, but we heard about a volleyball tournament and decided we wanted to come and play," Marlon Janssen, a tournament participant said.

Whether it was new friends or old friends participating, Terwelp knows John would have loved to see it all.

"I think he would be extremely happy. I'm sure he wishes he could be here right now, but I think he would be really happy to see the great turnout and see that everybody got together today to honor him," Terwelp said.