Aurora victim's dream lives, helps wildfire victims
AURORA, Colo. (WHDH) -- Jessica Ghawi had a dream: To collect and donate sports equipment to needy kids. She was killed in the Aurora shootings in July but her family is realizing her vision.
The Colorado wildfires of June and early July scorched hundreds of square miles and drove more than 40,000 people from their homes.
"It was so sad to see what these families were losing, and sporting equipment is a big part of that...and it's a big part of kids' lives,” said Stacey Mulligan of the North Metro Fire District.
No one had to tell that to 24-year old Jessica Ghawi, a budding sports reporter whose own love of sports, especially hockey, started when she was a kid.
So she put an idea into motion: to help the kids displaced by the fires recover what she would have wanted most.
"It’s the little things that make the difference, and sporting equipment is often the thing that helps children heal," said Ghawi’s mother, Sandy Phillips.
But the terrible seconds of gunfire and madness in that Aurora movie theater on July 20th...claimed Jessica among the 12 dead.
Then, from the depths of their grieving, Jessica's family and friends decided to revive her dream - and they did.
From all over Colorado, and beyond, donations of new and lightly used sports equipment made a monument to Jessica's memory. Professional athletes and 8 pro teams joined the effort, and the Precious Child charity and off-duty firefighters helped keep things organized.
But mostly it was just people touched by dual tragedies helping other people.
"Because we all cried, we all grieved when these things took place," said volunteer Cheryl Lovell.
In the end, it was 25,000 pieces of sports equipment and outdoor gear... and $30,000 dollars in scholarship money in Jessica's name.
One special donor was Tom Sullivan, the father of Alex Sullivan, another child lost in the Aurora massacre.
"This is exactly what my Alex would have wanted me to do," said Sullivan.
"We’re overwhelmed and very grateful to each and every one of you for being here," said Phillips.
From Jessica's mom, gratitude to ease her pain of loss, and a way to remember, for everyone to remember, who her daughter was, and what she gave and continues to give.