A group of church seniors are returning to East Tennessee, many for the first time, since a deadly crash on I-40.
On October 2, 2013, the Front Street Baptist Church bus lost control and hit a semi-truck in Jefferson County near the I-81 split. Eight people died, including 6 seniors on the bus, and 14 were injured.
The senior group, who call themselves "Young at Heart," has been healing ever since. Part of that process, is coming back to Jefferson County, to thank the people who helped them recover.
Members of all ages from the church congregation are participating in a mission trip this week in Dandridge.
The church is volunteering in various projects throughout the community and partnering with First Baptist Church of Dandridge to put on Vacation Bible School.
Later this week, the group will be holding appreciation lunches for the first responders, law enforcement, and medical staff.
Wednesday, a group volunteered at the Dandridge Ministerial Association Food Pantry.
Bus crash survivor, Beverly Wright, said her husband, John who died in the crash, would have attended this mission trip. He always took the opportunity to participate in mission trips when he could.
"Last year we went on a mission trip to Belize together," Beverly Wright said.
Beverly doesn't remember much from that day. The group was heading home to North Carolina from a church retreat in Gatlinburg.
"But I remember being at the accident lying flat on my back and people kept coming by saying we're going to help you. Just stay calm," Wright said.
She said support from East Tennessee continued in the weeks and months after.
"My family told me, a doctor would say my parents have a home here. If you need to go to their house and get a meal, spend the night, whatever you're welcome to go."
When the church started planning their annual mission trip, they felt called to come back to East Tennessee.
"It's a great way to heal, too. A way to serve others in the way that we've been served," Front Street Baptist Mission Director Heath Stone said.
"I feel like we've gotten closer as church. And just have a love for one another more than we had before," Stone said. "We can also share our stories and how we've come through it and I think that could help others that might be going through something in their lives as well."