Former Marine remembers the fallen

Special to Leader-Press 

Former Marine Sean Royal checks the brakes on his bike, the air in the tires and ensures his seat is at the right height. But most importantly, he checks his precious cargo—the American Flag and a photo of someone who lost her life too soon.
Royal, now a teacher for Copperas Cove ISD, will be the first cyclist to carry a flag for Flags4Fallen, a voluntary organization that recruits 5k,10k, half marathon and marathon runners to carry USA flags to the finish line for families who’ve lost someone too soon.
This will be Royal’s second time to have the honor to commemorate the life of a person who passed way at a young age. He will ride in the Cove House Classic 65 mile bike tour in honor of 2018 Copperas Cove High School senior Sarah Stephans who died unexpectedly in a car accident days before graduation. 
“I taught Sarah in several classes as a substitute teacher, but I truly remember her for a DECA presentation she was part of in which the topic was suicide prevention and awareness. She spoke with such passion about it to the students on my campus that it really touched me,” Royal said. “I originally heard about Sarah’s death from my seventh grade students who also conveyed the impact that she had made on them as well. I remember my students telling me for weeks that they would have been sad for any student who had died but her death seemed to touch them more because she displayed a true aura of care and concern for not only them, but for anyone she would meet.”
Stephans was also the student aide to the nurse at Copperas Cove Junior High and the students loved being around Stephans due to her positive disposition and compassion, Royal said.
The Stephans’ family is appreciative to have Sarah’s memory memorialized.
“We lost a beautiful soul who can never be replaced and it is during these difficult times that we are especially grateful to people like Sean for his compassion and support,” Charles Stephans said .      
Royal served on funeral details in the Marine Corps 1994-1998. He achieved the rank of sergeant and worked as a ground radio repairer. Posts about his participation in Cove House in memory of Stephans will be marked with the tag #flag4sarah. The Copperas Cove High School JROTC Bulldog Battalion Color Guard will fold and present the flag to the family after Royal crosses the finish line.

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