I think that's why the story of Lily Furneaux-Wolfenbarger touched me the way it did.Lily lived with her mom not far from where I live. I don't know her mother, but I reached out to her to ask if I could share her story with my readers. I'm share this story with her blessing.
On November 20, 2010 beautiful Lily was murdered. She was only two years old. Her alleged murderer is her step-mother and she is currently awaiting trial. This poor little girl died a death that no one should ever suffer, especially a child. According to police reports she suffered sexual abuse with "multiple objects" being inserted into her, and she was then killed by blunt force head trauma. (You can read more about her death here and here.) Her step-mother claims Lily fell in the shower, but she can't seem to explain away the severe vaginal trauma the little girl suffered. The alleged murderer has three children of her own, but all evidence points towards her since she was the only person home with Lily at the time she died. I felt nothing but rage as I watched her tearlessly "cry" to be allowed to go to Lily's funeral (the judge denied it). She is being held without bond.
Obviously, a child dying like this is unthinkable. I kept thinking to myself I could not imagine what it must be like to lose a child that way. I just can't even think about it.
But that's not why I'm telling you Lily's story. I'm sharing her story with you so I can tell you about Lauren, her mother. She was only 24-years-old when her daughter was murdered. Much to young to have to deal with something like that. But she has done amazing things in her daughter's memory.
Instead of allowing her pain and anger to swallow her up as we probably expected (and wouldn't fault her for), she has chosen to raise money and to donate it to various charities in Lily's name. A recent a capella concert raised $1,000 in two hours, which was donated to the Problem Pregnancy Center which offers services to women who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Lily's birthday is next month, and her family is celebrating with a birthday dinner. Tickets to the dinner are already sold out. Proceeds from the dinner are being donated to CARE House, a non-profit group that offers child abuse services and programs for over 4,000 people a year (free of charge).
Next month will also host a 5K Run in Lily's honor with proceeds being donated to a local child advocacy center.
There is also a golf outing planned, a group entering into a local marathon, tee shirt sales, roller skating rallys, and care packages for our troops (which will include a note letting them know they have an angel named Lily watching over them).
And there's the Facebook Page. When Lauren started it, she hoped to get 1,000 members. There is now over 12,000. Her new goal is to get 15,000 before Lily's accused murderer goes to court on April 27th.
I am in awe of this woman. She is so young, and I know her heart has to be broken, but she did not allow this loss to break her. She has done and is doing amazing things in her daughter's honor. I know people who have crumbled over things that seem insignificant in comparison to what Lauren is going though.
I don't know how she does it. I'd like to say this is what I would do if I was in her shoes, but truth is I don't know that I would. What she is doing takes incredible drive and courage. I don't know that I have that in me. I honestly don't think many people do.
If you were to visit Lauren's home you would see a Christmas tree in her living room. It's still up in April. Most of the bulbs are hanging around the bottom of the tree."That tree was the last thing (Lily) did the night before we took her (to her father's)," explains her grandfather. "All the bulbs were down low because she decorated it, and it will be there forever."
I believe it will.
This post is part of the A to Z Challenge.