Not a day goes by that Angela Sparrow isn't reminded of her husband, Brandon.
The Augusta pilot lost his life in a
in Taylorville, Illinois on Aug. 11, 2012.
Angela doesn't like to talk about that day, for good reason. But Wednesday, with the support of her mother at her side, she shared her take on her modern day hero.
"Some of those people on board were his friends, some he'd known for years and he did what needed to be done," Angela said.
Brandon was the pilot of a plane carrying twelve skydivers the morning of Aug. 11. The jump was part of a Mid-America Sport Parachute Club skydiving event. While in flight, something went wrong.
"As a pilot, he was taught to put everyone else on board that plane in front of himself, so that's what he did. When he knew he was having trouble with the plane, he knew he had to get everyone out," Angela said.
Brandon quickly dumped his fuel and managed to get all twelve passengers to jump moments before his final decision. He sacrificed his life and stayed with the plane to ensure it didn't hit any homes.
"Twelve people and all those people on the ground," Sparrow said.
First responders on scene called Brandon a hero.
"I'm not surprised by what he did. I'm very proud of him," Sparrow said.
Brandon and Angela met five and a half years ago. They would have celebrated their third year anniversary on Monday, Oct. 22. It was a day Angela spent at Smith Airport, in Macomb.
"He was an excellent pilot. He had two thousand hours under his belt. He also had a passion for working on planes, so he was working on getting certified to do that," Sparrow said.
His passions for planes and music always came in second when it came to his family and friends. It was evident in his final moments.
"He did a heroic thing. Everybody couldn't be prouder. It's been great to have their support, because it's been really hard," Sparrow said.
Brandon's family wants to honor his passions in the form of a scholarship. They plan to create a fund in his name for students going into aviation or music.
Also, a benefit this Saturday will honor Brandon.
HUGS in Hancock County is a cancer support group.
About three years ago, Angela was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. She and Brandon were drawn to HUGS and what it does for people going through treatment.
After receiving a clean bill of health a year later, the couple decided to pay it forward. This weekend will be the first fundraiser for the program.
"Our money is basically to help patients to and from with the help of gas cards, sometimes pharmacy cards. We've also helped, if we had available funds with things furthered for patients with no means to help themselves," Joyce Buckert, a HUGS board member said.
A HUGS Chili Cook-off will take place Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Sullivan and Son Auction and Events Center, south of Carthage.
A free shuttle bus will take visitors from the Carthage square to and from the benefit throughout the night.
Free will donations will get you into the cook-off. The benefit will also include a Live Auction, a Rat Pack car show and entertainment from Dana School of Dance.