Sister inspires balloon release in honor of crash victim
A sister's love helped rally a community to honor a young life lost too soon.
Family and friends gathered in Oshkosk Friday night to remember the victim of a tragic car crash in Marathon County.
12-year-old Deserae Landowski of Wausau and 12-year-old Reighlee Stevenson of Oshkosh were killed in that crash one week ago.
Reighlee's loved ones gathered to released balloons and shared memories; an idea inspired by her little sister.
It was a tradition between sisters that grew intro a tribute to a life lost too soon.
"It's just anywhere that we'd go that they'd get a balloon or something like that and then they'd say 'Ok, let's send this up to Papa' and they'd say something and let it go in the air," said Kristi Colley, Reighlee's mother.
After losing her sister in a tragic Marathon County crash one week ago, 4-year-old Nene told her mom she wanted to send a balloon to her sister.
"The community and our friends just ran with it," said Colley.
Reighlee's mother says blue was her daughter's favorite color and family and friends wore blue Friday in her honor.
The Oshkosh community sent hundreds of blue balloons into the sky. They had memories and messages of love to the 12-year-old girl.
"This is something she would've loved. This is something she would've been right on board with and be involved with," said Colley.
"Cause she would want people to have fun on this day," said Caprice Swanks, Reighlee's friend.
Reighlee's mom called it a celebration of her daughters' life.
"She has a beautiful smile and beautiful eyes and they would light up a room and she had such a big heart and our friends and family meant so much to her and that's what I want everybody to remember, how much she actually loved everybody," said Colley.
Those who loved her say Reighlee touched everyone she met.
"Oh my gosh, her laugh. Her laugh was just hilarious. You knew she was in that room. She walked into that room and she would just light it up," said Shalaun Lyons, a family friend.
Thanks to a child's love for her sister, this community celebrated Reighlee's life together.
"It's just beautiful. I didn't think there was all this love and support there but there really is," said Lyons.
Family and friends also sold popcorn, drinks and baked goods at the event. They say those proceeds will help pay for Reighlee's funeral costs.