MANHATTAN — With a population of just over 2,000, Manhattan is the kind of town where everybody knows everybody.
As the town mourns the tragic death of 17-year-old Delaney Doherty, the color pink has taken over storefronts and sidewalks in her honor.
While it can be seen as a symbol of tragedy, the color pink is simply just a glimpse of Doherty and all the lives she touched in her beautiful 17 years of life — cut short in an automobile accident Aug. 3 on West Dry Creek Road when a 20-year-old driver crossed the center line and struck Doherty's vehicle head on.
"She left such a big impact on this community," Hailey Casebolt stated. “I don't think she would have even imagined how big of a scale that she actually left behind.”
Eager to experience all the world had to offer, Delaney never let a moment pass by without finding joy, but more importantly, she made sure others found it as well.
“I've never had a friend where I could just like look at her and we just laugh," Clara Yager smiled. "Just laughing all the time. She was the funniest person I've ever met.”
One of her other best friends, Emma Kabalin, reiterated Delaney's humor and her ability to make others smile.
“We played travel ball this last summer together and it was like a super early morning game, and everyone was super tired," Kabalin shared. "Then it was right before our game started and she just started climbing up the fence. Like literally it was the goofiest thing ever.”
While laughter seemed to fill any room she was in, when it came to sports, Delaney was about as competitive as it could get.
“She could get feisty," Kabalin laughed. "Like she had some fire under her butt sometimes.”
“Specifically a time I remember her being so feisty is it was a home game, and she was just kind of having a hard game, and she was like, I'm gonna turn this around," Hailey Casebolt shared. "Then, she would not let a single ball hit the court on her side, and it was just amazing to see her kind of flip a switch and become the best player on the court.”
However, along with wreaking havoc on the volleyball court, she had no problem going yard on the softball diamond, too.
“She was fiery," her former softball coach Travis Kabalin remembered. "She was competitive. She was just everybody's biggest cheerleader. She would come in and score a run because somebody hit a home run and no big deal she scored, but whoever hit the dinger, she was jumping out of her shoes all over the dirt. That's just who she was. She was an absolute everybody's biggest cheerleader.”
Maybe that is how she’ll be remembered most — being everyone’s biggest cheerleader — because it didn’t matter if you were her friend, a teammate, or simply someone she had just met.
There was no one Delaney wouldn’t go out of her way for making sure they knew that they were loved.
"She wanted to be friends with everyone and she wanted to love everyone, and she wanted to make sure everyone was doing okay," Emma Kabalin smiled.
While it’s safe to say Delaney has done more in her 17 years of life than most people get the chance to do, perhaps we could all take a page out of her book and continue to live like D.
“She literally is sunshine," Yager beamed. "I know her favorite color is pink, but when I think of Delaney, I think of yellow, because she was just such a bright person, and I hope that that's never forgotten.”
To make sure Delaney's light shines over the community for generations to come, the Manhattan Softball Association is raising money for an indoor facility that will be built in her honor at the Tigers' softball field.
Donations can be sent to the Association's Venmo (@manhattanyouthsoftball) or to their address at P.O. Box 810, Manhattan, MT 59741.