Last Friday morning, I found out one of my closest friends, Cindy Salyer, was killed in a car accident Thursday night. Cindy (picture below in red) was travelling on I-26 to visit her mother, who was in the hospital after surgery.
I’ve been friends with Cindy since 2013, and she was one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve ever met. From volunteering at road races to helping the homeless, she was always thinking of others. She volunteered with animal rescue/relief efforts as well as collected donations for refugees. Cindy and her life partner, Ed, also volunteered feeding the homeless and less fortunate almost every week.
Cindy knew how to make your day special- whether you had a birthday or a bad day. On July 4, Cindy and I ran the I’ON Firecracker 5K. My race didn’t go as expected, and I was walking back to my car in tears when Cindy saw me and invited me out to coffee with her and Ed. We went to Cooper River Coffee Roasters for frappucinos, and that simple kind gesture turned my day around.
After that, we went to that coffee shop almost every Saturday morning. Cindy and I didn’t run together, but I could always count on seeing her there around 9:30 when both of us – and some other local runners – finished up our long runs.
Cindy was a true ambassador for Charleston running. She made everyone feel like valued as a runner, whether you ran a 15 minute 5K or a 15 minute mile. She believed everyone had a place in this sport and in our running community. Her Monday night group run welcomed everyone, including walkers, and she was excited to run the Richmond Marathon and chalk it off her bucket list.
If Cindy wasn’t running a race, she was volunteering at a race. Often, she was volunteering while wearing a race bib- off to run as soon as she was done handing out shirts. During hot or difficult races, Cindy was known for making friends on the course and encouraging them to the finish line.
My last memory with Cindy was the Charleston Riverdogs game on the day of the Solar Eclipse, August 21. Cindy invited me to the game a few weeks before, and since I had no eclipse plans and hadn’t been to a baseball game, I joined her, Ed, Amy, and some other friends. We watched the eclipse and game, took pictures, met the news crews and NASA team members, and drank boozy milkshakes. It was a wonderful day.
The days since Cindy’s death have been tough. On Saturday, just a little over 24 hours after I heard the news, I ran by “our” coffee shop. I haven’t gone back yet, but I will venture back someday, knowing there will be an empty seat at the table. I’ve seen articles and posts online and thought to myself that I would message that to Cindy, then realized I can’t.
Bridge runs, Riverdogs games, and Saturday mornings at Cooper River Coffee Roasters will never be the same- and neither will anyone who met Cindy. Knowing her has impacted all of us forever.
Never take your friends for granted. Cherish every run, ballgame, car ride, brunch date, sloppy selfie, and memory. Someday, those memories will be all you have.