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Van Buren varsity girls cross-country team turns tragedy into triumph following devastating fire

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 6:08 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2021 at 11:24 PM CST
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VAN BUREN, Mo. (KFVS) - A Heartland team of runners turned tragedy into triumph taking inspiration from a major fire.

Over the weekend, the Van Buren varsity girls cross country team found motivation in a devastating loss.

The Landing burned down in September and from the ashes rose hope, promise and a future legacy from a local athletic team. The fire had a profound effect on the local economy and its residents.

Senior Katie Griffin said the loss really affected her team’s morale.

“Some people would really cry on our runs, but we all had each other’s backs and we pulled them all through,” she said.

Some of the cross-country team members previously had jobs at The Landing.

Junior Ella Banks said because the fire affected so many people, the team felt they had to do something to help bring the community back together.

“When it affects someone on our team, it affects the whole team. And then after races we would go there as a team to have dinner.”

Landing owner Tom Bedell said plans are already in place to rebuild the iconic structure.

“We’re going to do two separate buildings. And we’re going to do the main building back in the same area that burnt,” he said.

And as a long-time Van Buren resident, he’s proud the girls brought home the championship trophy.

“Good group of kids,” he said. “I think some of them worked for us. And I’m really happy for them.”

The River Event Center, which stand adjacent to where The Landing once stood, is currently undergoing extensive renovations to open a new restaurant.

The Landing owners are currently meeting with architects to finalize the plans for the new building, and construction can start as soon as this fall.

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