EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNT) – Warner Blackburn, 66, of Emporia, was riding in the Dirty Kanza 50 when he had a heart attack.
Just a week before his 67th birthday, he prepared for the 50 mile bike race as he had many times before.
Rhnae Blackburn, Warner’s wife said he left that morning feeling just great.
Blackburn said although it was a truly tragic incident, Warner was surrounded by those closest to him.
“He was actually with family even though he wasn’t conscious to know that,” said Blackburn. “He was with family.”
Blackburn said Warner was in good health, biked often, had three sons and was a proud and loving grandfather.
He was a longtime Emporian and worked at Crosswinds Counseling & Wellness.
Friends and Family are already in the early stages of planning a memorial fund in Warner’s honor.
“We’re looking forward to working with the Blackburn family to do what we can to make sure that his legacy continues and that he is remembered and we can help build the community through this,” said Jim Cummins with Dirty Kanza Promotions.
Friends and co-workers of Blackburn shared these statements about Warner:
Raymona – Therapist/Waiver Coordinator: “What I will remember most about him is he was always thinking of others. Even if he didn’t feel good he would ask me how I was doing. He was the first one to remember my birthday, without fail. He was genuine, sweet, caring man. One of my favorite people ever! He loved his clients and would celebrate their victories with them. Sports games, graduation, programs.. He was more excited than they were about their accomplishments.”
Travis – Case Manager: “I have so many co workers I love and respect but Warner Blackburn was at the top of that list. So many great memories that I will miss about my friend.”
Amanda Cunningham – Chief Operating Officer: “Warner was a tremendous asset to the CrossWinds team. He was an exceptional employee, compassionate co-worker and amazing friend. He brought tremendous skills and a cheerful demeanor with him every day to work. He thoroughly enjoyed working with kids and helping everyone around him however he could. He talked lovingly about his family on a regular basis and would talk about how much he enjoyed biking to whomever would listen. Warner will forever be in our hearts and will continue to be an example we can all look up to and try to emulate. He will be greatly missed.”