Reagan Tokes knew she wanted to be a Buckeye when she was about 8 years old.
Her father, Toby, took her to an Ohio State football game in 2003 and in the middle of it, she looked up at him and said, “Dad, I want to go here,” he said.
The charismatic child became an intelligent, athletic and vibrant young woman, the first in her high school’s history to earn a varsity letter in tennis all four years. She graduated Anthony Wayne High School in Maumee, Ohio, with a 4.5 GPA and went on to the university she knew she loved since she was a young girl in a big stadium.
At Ohio State, Reagan entered as a pre-med student, but like many, organic chemistry “kicked her butt,” so she decided to switch her major, her father said.
That did not deter Reagan from doing what she was meant to do, from doing what she loved: helping people.
She changed her major to psychology with a goal in mind: opening her own practice and helping those who suffer from addiction, mental health issues and other psychological hardships.
It seemed that her goal was all but complete when she began planning her life after Ohio State. By early February 2017, she had already applied for graduation and picked the frame for her diploma. It was black, with the old-school Ohio State logo on it. Reagan chose that frame the same day her father asked her to select one. When she posted on social media about it, Toby said he cried.
He was simply overwhelmed with joy. His daughter, who he bonded with through sports and athletics, his buddy who he was so tight with, was nearing the beginning of the rest of her life.
Once Reagan got the diploma at commencement, she was going to move to Cleveland, and perhaps work for the Cleveland Clinic — Reagan knew someone who all but promised her a job.
Then, her father said, she planned to attend graduate school, a step in the direction of getting yet another degree in the field of psychology or psychiatry, the field in which she knew she could help people.
But she never got that far. A promise-filled life was stolen of its potential on Feb. 8, 2017, by a man who will now spend his life in a prison cell for kidnapping, raping and murdering Reagan.
Her last words to that stranger were “I just want to live.”
Reagan’s life centered around others, Toby, and Reagan’s mother, Lisa, said. She could walk into any room and bring with her an unparalleled energy, an energy as bright as the sun.
Reagan’s laugh, Lisa said, was powerful and vibrant. Reagan’s smile was the most beautiful of anyone’s, her mom continued, “You’ve seen the pictures.”
Reagan’s favorite color was Tiffany blue.
Reagan’s compassion was evident in the way she treated other beings, like the sea horse she tried to rescue during a walk on the beach with her mom.
Reagan couldn’t simply pass the critter laying in the sand, she had to save it, she needed to save it. So, with great effort, Lisa said, Reagan returned the small, nearly lifeless animal back into the ocean alive and swimming.
In fact, it was there that she met her best friends. Her future roommates. It was there she found her second home.
Reagan also loved her own animals — her dog, Ellie, was a shitzu. Like Reagan, Ellie stands out in pictures, her posture near perfect and energy radiating through.
These stories, these details, these memories are who Reagan Tokes really is.
She has always been more than what happened to her on Feb. 8, 2017. The details of that horrific night have dominated the conversation about her life, especially during the past three weeks of the trial that led to her murderer receiving three life sentences in prison.
The details in court painted a limited picture of a young woman whose potential was limitless.
But Reagan is more than those details in court. For those who know her, for those who love her, her smile, the most beautiful smile, will never fade.
Though she will never get the opportunity to open her own practice, or move to Cleveland and begin work at the hospital, her life will continue to touch others by way of a scholarship in her name.
The Reagan Delaney Tokes Memorial Foundation scholarship will be given to two Ohio State students each year, and give them the stability so many yearn for in college by knowing where their tuition is coming from, opportunity in education and a new home in college.
Reagan’s physical life was taken from her. But her memory, her helping hand, her love, her compassion, her impact, will never cease to exist.
They will shine on. As bright as her smile.