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A positive night for Maddy's friends and family: Hundreds of Hastings residents whisked to Maplewood to hear her favorite song played

The band let the Sake family on their tour bus before the show. Pictured from left to right are Mike Sake, Shelley Sake, Tyler Hubbard (from Florida Georgia Line), Alyssa Sake, Abby Sake and Brian Kelley (from Florida Georgia Line). Photo courtesy of the Sake family

One thing after another fell into place in December for the Sake family of Hastings. The end result was one of the best nights of their life.

You'll remember that last name: Maddy Sake died tragically in a car crash in early September. She was 16 years old.

Just after the crash, Maddy's mother Shelley got on Facebook and looked up one of her daughter's favorite bands - Florida Georgia Line. They have this song named "Cruise" that was Maddy's favorite, and Shelley Sake asked the band if they'd be willing to post a note on Maddy's Facebook memorial page.

Turns out, Shelley Sake wasn't the only one with that idea. Several of Maddy's friends wrote the band, too.

Soon after, the phone rang at the Sake household, and it was the band's lead singer, Tyler Hubbard. Hubbard told the Sakes that his father died tragically in a helicopter crash five years earlier, when he was just 20 years old. He understood their shock and their sadness, he told them.

Eventually, the conversation came around to when the band was going to be playing in Minnesota, and the family learned that Florida Georgia Line would be here in December.

Slowly, word spread that the band had called the Sakes. Everyone got excited. Wouldn't it be great, many thought, if a group of Maddy's friends and family could attend the concert at the Myth in Maplewood?

The plans, though, hit a big snag - it was an 18-and-over show, and most of Maddy's classmates were 16 or 17. Tiffany Owen, a Hastings woman, eventually got word of the problem.

She contacted the manager of the Myth and told him the story of Maddy and her love for the band and the song. One thing led to another, and the manager waived the 18-and-over restriction with the assurance that there would be an ample amount of chaperones present at the concert.

"It was the least I could do to help the Sake family, who was grieving," Owen said. "(I wanted to) make it more of a memorable night for them."

Owen knows many of Maddy's friends, having served as a rugby coach in Hastings. She was even able to get 250 tickets to the concert to sell to students here.

"All of these kids mean so much to me, and I felt helpless while they were mourning all of these losses, so I tried doing the most positive thing for them that I could do," she said. "The time I spent selling these tickets, and the amount of minutes I overused on my cell phone from so many people calling to buy them, was definitely worth it and I would do it all over again if it meant others being happy."

The Myth gave the Sake family VIP tickets, so they had the best seats in the house.

The last hurdle, though, was transportation. How in the world could 300 youths and adults get to Maplewood and back safely?

In stepped Deb Kuhns. She called the Hastings Bus Company, asking about how much it would cost to rent bus transportation for everyone. She explained the situation, and the bus company came up big. They donated the use of three buses and three drivers.

"This meant a safe ride to the concert and back," Shelley Sake said. "(It was) just a wonderful gesture on their part."

Shelley Sake then let the band know that all of this was happening, so they invited the Sake family and a few friends onto the tour bus. Shelley, her husband Mike, their daughters Alyssa and Abby (Maddy's twin), boyfriends Cody Krier and Jesse Stertz and Shelley's parents and all got on the bus.

"(We) spent about 45 minutes talking with the band on their new tour bus," Shelley Sake said. "(They were) honestly the nicest, most down to earth guys you'd want to meet, and so genuinely interested in all of us. We took pictures, got autographs and the band took Maddy's memorial bracelets to wear on stage."

During the show, when it came time for the band to play "Cruise," they stopped and dedicated the song to Maddy.

"To say the crowd went wild would be an understatement," Shelley Sake said. "Everyone was chanting Maddy's name as the band asked them to light up their cell phones for Maddy."

One of the band members, Brian Kelley, put on one of Maddy's memorial T-shirts while on stage, too.

Everything that went into the night has left the family incredibly appreciative.

"We are sincerely grateful to the Florida Georgia Line and The Myth for allowing the Hastings group to purchase concert tickets prior to the public sale," Mike Sake said. "The concert sold out quickly, which made it even more special to us that Maddy's friends could remember her in a positive way together."

"I will forever be thankful to Florida Georgia Line," Alyssa Sake said. "They brought all of us together in such a positive way." 

Since the concert, the band has stayed in touch with the family, sending texts and notes back and forth on Christmas and New Year's.

"The entire evening was so special for us as a family," Shelley Sake said. "It was a positive way for everyone to remember Maddy. We will always be grateful for everyone that made it possible."