Riders support grieving community

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Equestrians from all over California mounted up Saturday afternoon for the Cowboy’s Honor Ride to remember fallen Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona. 

Since 2016, the ride has been an expression to show support for law enforcement officers who lost their lives. There have been other rides held in different California locations, each focusing on a specific officer that paid the ultimate price.

On March 2, horses, which have long been utilized to assist in physical and emotional therapy, were called on to bring healing and comfort to the community of Arbuckle, still in mourning for Corona, who was shot and killed on Jan. 10, 2019.

Majestic steeds and their riders solemnly made their way up 5th Street before crossing Hall Street to end at Balfour Park for a different conclusion to this Cowboy Ride. 

Riders lined up along 10th Street facing the park’s soccer field and those on foot stood at the edge of the field around a potted magnolia tree. Officer Corona’s family were among those gathered. 

Officer Corona’s father, Merced Corona, addressed the crowd in English and Spanish.

“I really appreciate everybody showing up today, from the bottom of our hearts: myself, Lupe (Officer Corona’s mother), and our three daughters. We cannot even begin to express our gratitude for everybody that has come out today in this weather and cold, and I appreciate you guys all being here and supporting us and remembering Natalie.” 

The tree was a gift to the community. Vietnam Veteran, Robert Rodriguez, of USA Boxing and a friend of the Corona family, provided a carefully selected tree for the ceremony. Rodriguez explained the significance of the magnolia tree. To the ancient Chinese culture, magnolias represent the strength and beauty of women, he said.  

Life-long friend to the Corona family, George Green, was invited to say a prayer. Green opened by thanking the Corona family who had “taught us all a lesson about grace and what it means to forgive, even when times are ugly and tough.” Green’s prayer asked, “bless this tree, that it would grow big and strong. And Father, that it would shade grace and forgiveness for all who enjoy its presence.” 

Members from the community worked together to put the tree in place and secure it. Every element was thoughtfully planned. “We wanted it to be visible somewhere from the road and we wanted it to be somewhere it’s going to shade to the east so when they’re playing soccer, some of the people can gather around it while they’re watching games, Merced Corona.

Future plans are to have two benches placed next to the tree.

The Blue Line Wives, who are grappling with a similar loss, brought cookies and served coffee that was donated from Rise and Grind, a local coffee shop.

Looking around at the turnout, Merced Corona commented, “These kind of gestures from the people and these kind of ceremonies it just goes to show me that one person can touch a lot of people, and Natalie has touched a lot of people. We’re just so blessed to live in this community and blessed to be around this many people that love us and are praying for us. It gives you comfort to know you’re not alone where all these people are praying for us and her. She died doing what she loved to do. How many of us are going to get to do that? Not many. But she really loved to be there in Davis and she was just a remarkable, young lady.”

The Corona family has long been involved in sports, school functions, activities around the town and the church. 

Lupe Corona, Natalie’s mother, spoke about how Natalie’s sisters are coping with Natalie’s death. 

“They’re very focused with their education and in their career as far as what they want to accomplish,” Lupe Corona said. “Very focused as far as their educational goals.” 

The bereaved mother recognizes her family’s healing through all the support and by clinging to their faith. 

“It has just been amazing for a lack of a better word, everybody has been an amazing blessing and it’s humbling,” she said. “It’s those prayers that help us get out of bed and keep us standing up.”■

(Photos courtesy of: Mary Grimmer, and staff photographer Jennifer Blue)