It’s 8 am on Nicky Hayden Day in Owensboro, 6/9 by mayoral proclamation. A steady stream of pilgrims visits the monument to photograph it in the morning light, without the crowds, and pay their respects before heading home. As five or six stand in contemplation, a runner strides by, reaches out and touches Nicky’s boot for luck and love.
In his speech at the unveiling, Tommy revealed that the family had wrestled with the question of whether Nicky would have wanted a statue. You don’t need to have known Nicky to know that he wouldn’t want to glorify himself. But the Haydens were persuaded that a monument would serve as a pilgrimage site for people from all over the country and the world who loved Nicky and honor his memory, and as a touchstone to inspire others to reach for their dreams. As the morning sun lights that brilliant smile for the first time, the statue is already serving those purposes. –Susan Haas