Community looking to preserve memory of Treyton Kilar’s dreams


The word Mary Kilar used to describe the night of Sept. 2, 2010, when her 6-year-old son, Treyton, was tragically killed in a car accident caused by an alleged drunk driver.

Mike Kilar, Treyton’s father, was driving home from East Troy with three of his four children after watching his daughter Rosie’s volleyball match, when his vehicle was struck by an alleged drunk driver. The accident occurred at the intersection of Highway 20 and county Highway N.

“The effects of losing a child run incredibly deep,” Mary Kilar said. “It affects every last family member and it never changes. The loss is permanent.”

But now devastation is turning into hope.

Mary said the community as a whole has been instrumental in helping the Kilar family move forward.

“The outcry of support has been jaw-dropping,” Mary Kilar said. “Thousands upon thousands of people have reached out to us and it has been incredible.”

To help remember Treyton, who was a huge Brewers fan, a baseball field titled “Treyton Kilar’s Field of Dreams” is planned to be built in Starin Park with a 225-250-foot diamond, concrete dugouts and a scoreboard. Depending on the amount of fundraising, lighting, a concession stand and restrooms will be provided as well. The project is estimated to cost $450,000.

Associate professor of communication James Kates and his wife produced a video currently competing for the Pepsi Refresh grant, which awards $250,000 to the top two ideas that receive the most votes. The video is currently in second place.

“My wife and I produced the video together to help the Kilars raise money for Treyton’s field,” Kates said. “We have known the Kilars for several years and felt it was a way to help.”

Kates said the video includes family photos as well as home video of Treyton, which the Kilars provided.

Mary Kilar said the family hopes it will be something that brings the community together.

“[Treyton] enjoyed sharing the game [of baseball] with people,” Mary Kilar said. “His favorite thing was to play baseball with friends and with family. I think for us it is going to be a way to keep Treyton’s memory alive.

“This isn’t just about Treyton Kilar; it is about making people realize that when you make a destructive decision, it will kill.”

The field itself is going to be a place where community and families can come together, Mary Kilar said.

“We hope that thousands of children are able to step on the field and really think about their dreams and get a feel for Major League Baseball on a little-league field and really try to accomplish those dreams,” Mary Kilar said.

Kates agreed it will be a great place for families to gather and have fun.

“I think it will reinforce the sense of community here,” Kates said. “The idea that our lives are interconnected, and that we’re at our best when we build something bigger than any one of us could do alone.”

Along with Kates, Mary Kilar said the UW-Whitewater athletic department has been involved in the fundraising effort, including Paul Plinske, UW-Whitewater’s athletic director.

The baseball team hosted a fundraiser and head coach John Vodenlich has been helpful in the planning process for what the field should look like, Mary Kilar said. The men’s and women’s basketball teams also hosted a Kid’s Day in Treyton’s honor, she said.

Mary Kilar said the UW-Whitewater marketing department has also created awareness on their website.

“I never realized what a help and support the university would be and they truly have been to us,” Mary said.

The video is competing against national organizations in its effort to win the Pepsi grant.

“To know that people have opened their hearts and opened their minds to helping this project from near and far has been inspirational to us,” Mary Kilar said. “The field isn’t going to be just ‘Treyton Kilar’s Field,’ it is going to be the community’s field because they are vested in what we have done to build this field.”

Mary Kilar said the community should be very proud of what it has done to reach out to her family.

The biggest lesson learned from the tragedy for the Kilar family is that people need to think about their decisions, Mary Kilar said.

“Never have we said that alcohol, for those who are of age to be drinking, is a bad thing,” Mary Kilar said. “But it is what you do once you have had those drinks that can become a bad thing. One destructive decision killed our young son before he even reached his seventh birthday; and at no fault to him, he just did not have a choice in the matter.”

Despite these trying times, the Kilar family has managed to look for the light in this darkness.

“There is a ton of good in this world,” Mary Kilar said. “The university students have been so supportive of this project. We hope that good continues to spread through Treyton’s message.”

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