Matt Kenseth presents Bryson Byrnes with special gift

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The anniversaries are the hardest, admits Karen Goins-Byrnes.

Two more near for the widow of popular NASCAR broadcaster Steve Byrnes.

“It has been bittersweet,’’ Karen Goins-Byrnes said of the past year. “Obviously, this past year we’ve lived through the firsts of everything. This month, in particular, will be tough because Steve’s birthday is on the 14th and his passing was on the 21st.

“So, we’ve had to live through a first Christmas, a first Father’s Day and a first Easter and those are challenging times, but we’ve tried to be purposeful in living and moving forward and experiencing life. I don’t think we honor Steve in not. I think we do a disservice to him by not going out and living life.’’

Tuesday, Karen Goins-Byrnes and 13-year-old son Bryson, were at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Matt Kenseth presented Bryson with a replica of the sword he won in last year’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes at Bristol Motor Speedway and a framed photo.

Steve Byrnes died two days after that race after a battle with head and neck cancer.

Kenseth said he wanted to do something for the family as the anniversary approached.

“It was something we had talked about for a while,’’ he said. “Just kind of thought the one-year anniversary of the race coming up and losing Steve two days thereafter and they had that display here (for Steve Byrnes). We thought it would be something nice we could try to do for the family.’’

Bryson was surprised and appreciative.

What will he do with the sword?

“I’ll hang it up somewhere where I’m reminded of it or maybe just keep it in case the zombie apocalypse happens,’’ he said.

Bryson says he’d like to follow his father into broadcasting.

“What really made him special is that he cared so much for me and loved me and always wanted the best for me,’’ Bryson said of his father. “I feel really blessed that he cared for me that much.’’