Video put together by Sarah Michaels LTHS class of 2011. Sarah wrote to me:
I had no idea it would ever make it back around to you guys but I’m so glad it did. I had originally created it just before the 1 year for some of the kids in her grade who asked for help getting through that weekend.
My sister, Rachel, was in Kelli’s grade. We both went to Park but they had met at LT. Rachel and her shared a lot of the same friends. When everything happened, I was a freshman in college. My phone was going off like crazy and facebook was no different.
That night I knew that the community was changed. I followed the story every single day and still do. My sister had a very hard time dealing with it all as a freshmen class.
She made a Kelli headband and wore it every day I saw her over Thanksgiving break that year. She still wears stuff to remember Kelli, and miles away at college I still wear the wristband and share the story with everyone around me. You had a daughter that touched the lives of everyone she met and I have heard so many amazing stories. I know you hear that a lot, but I go to school in Indiana and my life has been changed because of her…. That’s how only part of how far her legacy has gone.
For five years now I have been a volunteer counselor at Tommy’s Kids Camp. It is the summer camp that St. Thomas Hospice puts on for kids who are grieving the loss of a family member. I have such a passion for it, so much so that I am actually in nursing school to get a degree in nursing and then planning to work with bereavement services. There is something so special about getting to help make someone’s life just a little bit better through such a traumatic time. And the people I meet are just like you and Mrs. O’Laughlin: some of the strongest people I have ever known. You all give me passion to keep doing what I am doing. I know that if I can even help one person smile, even just for a second, then everything will be worth it in the end.
I saw that through music and pictures there was something so therapeutic. At camp, I am always in charge of making the video memorial slideshow. There are lots of tears, good tears. I go to a Christian college and when I told everyone the story about Kelli, they wanted to help. I made the slideshow and as I added each picture, someone said a prayer. Prayers for peace, justice, Kelli, your family, the community…. Prayers for everything. Know that so much love went into that slideshow. I wanted it to show people that no one could ever take Kelli away from us. Kelli is still a part of this community, and she always will be.
To this day we still have ribbons and flowers up around our tree on Brainard, for all to see. Thousands of people drive by it every day. We just can’t take it down. This video was made to remember the beautiful girl she was but also to see just how much she has changed this community. I have never felt more proud to have been an LT alum and I will go to school every day with Kelli in my mind, knowing she is my inspiration to be a nurse and give back to families who are grieving. Her bracelet stays around my backpack every day. So that is who I am, and that is just some of the reasons this was made. I am so glad that you can enjoy the video.