GREESBURG — Greensburg native and occasional resident Matt Deighton got on the Stars of Hope bus in November 2019, along with New York Says Thank You Foundation founder and executive director Jeff Parness.
Deighton is still on that bus, traveling on a cross-country tour bringing hope to people all over the United States, all in memory of his experiences with rebuilding Greensburg after the May 4, 2007, tornado.
Deighton was in Pratt on April 30 for a visit with friends and to replenish Cathy Abbott’s supply of Duck Salt and Duck Nuts, which she carries at her store, Cathy’s Closet. Deighton created the products in Greensburg and markets them nationwide.
The bus tour however, is about spreading hope to others who are going through all types of tragedies.
“It is more than a bus. The whole tour is a monument to how the people of Greensburg pulled themselves back up after the 2007 tornado destroyed the town,” said Parness. “Stars of Hope is a monument of healing and hope through art.”
The Stars of Hope bus tour was a dream of many people for years as the project grew in size and stature of national recognition. In 2019, the bus tour became a reality for Deighton. The SOH started in Greensburg to bring hope to families after the devastating tornado that leveled the town in May 2007. A family from Texas sent 220 wooden stars for students to be creative with.
“The kids painted words of hope, or just [a] simple symbol on the star and put them where there house used to be,” said Deighton.
Some of these stars are now hanging at the big red barn north of town, which was built by the New York Says Thank you Foundation. Since then, approximately 130,000 stars have been created.
Parness said there was one simple goal for 2019: do one event with the bus. Before the end of the year, the crew had completed 15 events. The bus tour is on hiatus due to COVID-19 but hopes to get back on the road soon and bring more hope and healing to communities.
For Deighton, traveling with the bus tour is a way to spread the support he and others in the town of Greensburg received when they needed it most, after the tornado.
“He recently went to California to help the first responders there because they were committing suicide because of all the fires that they could not help get put out,” Abbott said. “He travels around trying to give people help and positive thoughts.”