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Mother Honors Son’s Memory With Book Giveaway

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Zach Brokaw was an avid lover of books, his mother said, and so she saw it fitting that his memory should live on through something he loved.

Hunter Nolen, left, and Xander Nolen, right, stand with Diane Brokaw while selecting books at the donation event Brokaw organized.

Diane Brokaw organized a donation of books to honor the memory of her son, Zach Brokaw, who fell victim to drowsy driving in 2015.

Diane Brokaw coordinated the giveaway for the weekend of Zach’s birthday. He would have been 22 years old April 9. 

Brokaw said the event was a success, and the impact of Zach’s story has reached others, which gives her hope people will learn the dangers of drowsy driving and how to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring. 

Zach was a 2013 graduate of Woodstock North High School, where he was class salutatorian. Zach had just completed a long day at camp in June 2015 when he drove to run an errand. Both he and his passenger fell asleep behind the wheel and the car drifted into oncoming traffic. Zach was instantly killed and his passenger, along with the driver of the other vehicle, were injured.

Monetary donations totaling around $4,000 and 125 donated books brought the grand total of books to 1,350, to be given away in memory of Zach. Initially the donations were intended for Woodstock Food Pantry, but due to the large number of books, the giveaway was opened to the public. 

In addition to the books, Woodstock Food Pantry offered a food donation and Walmart gift card to participating families. 

Diane Brokaw helps a boy select books at a book donation drive she organized to honor her late son, Zach Brokaw.

A parent of children who received books from the donations thanked Brokaw and told her that her sons finally put down their video games and are excited to be reading. 

Approximately 450 books were given away at the pantry, and the remaining books will be distributed to children attending the annual Greenwood School spaghetti dinner April 28. Both Brokaw and her son attended Greenwood.

“Seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids who came and were so excited to be receiving books made spending Zach’s birthday without him a little more bearable,” Brokaw said. 

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