Memorial ride, walk planned in Oakfield to honor couple

10 years ago

OAKFIELD, Maine — It was nearly one year ago that the small community of Oakfield was stunned by the shocking murder of Michael Kitchen and Heidi Pratt.
On Sept. 23, 2013, Kitchen, 51, and Pratt, 49, were killed in their home before it was set ablaze. A 32-year-old Houlton man, Matthew Davis, was charged with those murders. His trial is expected to start sometime this fall.

To honor the couple who meant so much to so many, the inaugural “Mike and Heidi” Memorial Ride and Walk will be held Saturday, Sept. 20 in Oakfield. It is the first of what is planned to be a yearly event.
“Everyone refers to them as Mike and Heidi,” said Ken Bustard, one of the event organizers. “Those close to them had a tendency to refer to them as one person, as they were inseparable … soul mates for life.”
A planning committee, chaired by Bustard, has met for several months to work out the details. Others on the committee include Pearl Bustard, Brenda and Keith Hersey, Jerry and Carroll Crandall and Shannon and Winky Lloyd.
Proceeds from this event will go into the “Mike and Heidi Memorial Fund.” This fund will be administered by the Merrill Millstream Park Committee and enables events at the park for area children.
Bustard said one example was that the funds raised would help pay for goodie bags during the annual “Christmas in The Park” event. That event typically draws nearly 100 children to the park
Registration will begin at Merrill Millstream Park in Merrill, beginning at 8 a.m. The cost is $10 per rider or walker. Participants will receive a souvenir magnet, chicken barbecue and a raffle ticket for several surprise raffle items.
An opening ceremony follows at 10 a.m. with the dedication of a memorial bench donated by Katahdin Forest Products of Oakfield. The bench will be strategically placed in from of the pavilion, where children gather to greet Santa during his visit to the community in the annual “Christmas in the Park” event.
Representatives of the six local fire departments who worked to contain the fire at the home of Kitchen and Pratt will be recognized and given a special plaque in memory of the couple. Danny Beers is scheduled to sing “Amazing Grace,” which was a special song especially enjoyed and often requested by Heidi, Bustard said.
Motorcycle riders will depart at 10:15 a.m. for an approximately one-hour trip on a route often driven by the couple. Immediately following their departure, walkers will leave the park and walk to Mike & Heidi’s vacant house lot, led by the Oakfield Fire Department.  Upon arrival, each participant will receive a bulb to plant in a raised bed sitting where the home once stood.
Riders and walkers will gather back at Merrill Millstream Park at approximately noon for a chicken barbecue. There will also be 10 “raffle baskets” donated by various individuals and businesses. Tickets will be sold on these throughout the morning  and the raffle will be held at about 1:30 pm. Throughout this period, smaller items will be raffled with the tickets handed out at registration.
The final event will be an auction for a single item — a coveted assortment of Harley Davidson memorabilia.
“Many people have already expressed an interest in helping,” Bustard said. “There are several ways individuals or organizations can help. First and most important, is for people to attend the event.”
Secondly, individuals may contribute a salad or dessert to compliment the chicken barbecue. In addition, participants are encouraged to purchase raffle tickets to help grow the fund. Financial donations are also accepted.
Several volunteers are also needed to help with traffic, food and other items during the day. Those wishing to help out can contact Ken Bustard at 659-2018 or email him at accountingcoach@gmail.com.
Bustard added that kindness that Mike and Heidi showed for the community was evidenced by the following post Pratt made on Facebook several weeks before her death. That post read, “Carl, There are no words we can say to make the hurting any less. Just know that you and your family are in our thoughts. We never know and sometimes never understand why things happen the way they do but with love and support from family and friends we manage to pull through. You have our love and support now or any time in the future you may need it. Love, Heidi and Mike.”
“Those words of compassion and genuine concern epitomize the characters of Mike and Heidi,” Bustard said. “Now it is the community that finds itself responding to the loss of Mike & Heidi, looking to Mike and Heidi’s own words for strength.”