A tribute for Emily Keyes: Local family finds a way to remember friend killed in school shooting
MARBLE, Colo. Sept. 27, 2006 was a horrible day for Blaize Johnson. That’s when her friend Emily Keyes was killed at Platte Canyon High School.Today, Blaize likes to remember Emily’s laugh, her outgoing personality and all the good that has come out of an unimaginable tragedy.”I try not to think about the bad things. That’s what everyone is doing. Now, we ‘re just trying to do random acts of kindness,” the 18-year-old Glenwood Springs resident said.Wednesday, Blaize, her mom, dad and brother went to Marble to watch Greg Tonozzi’s sculpture be loaded onto a truck to be taken to Bailey, Colo.”It was sad, but it’s incredible what they’re doing, and that (Tonozzi) decided to do a random act of kindness,” she said.
Random acts of kindness is the theme the Keyes family has embraced since Emily was met with what some of called a random act of violence.It’s that theme that pulled Tonozzi into the project. “They’re such a wonderful family and they wanted people to do acts of kindness in Emily’s name,” Blaize’s mom Valerie Haugen said. “The family passed out ribbons that said ‘Random acts of kindness for Emily.'”Haugen said Tonozzi saw her ribbon at a party. Tonozzi said that he and his brother had been talking about the possibility of doing something for the Keyes family even before he saw the ribbon.Haugen said they used to live in Bailey and their kids and the Keyes kids have been friends for many years.”It was very moving,” Haugen said of their trip to Marble. “The kindness and nobility of people is so moving.”Everyone who has met the Keyes family has been moved by their strength.
“They are really inspirational people. They want people to be united and bring a greater good to the world,” Haugen said.Haugen said Tonozzi’s generosity and dedication to the project was very special.”It was really a gift to the family,” she said.Before Emily was killed she sent text messages to her family – “I love you guys,” and “I Love u guys. k?”Now the family has started a foundation and Web site – iloveyouguys.org. The mission stated on the site says: “The “I Love U Guys” Foundation was created to restore and protect the joy of youth through educational programs and positive actions in collaboration with families, schools, communities, organizations and government entities.”Haugen and Blaize both say it’s important to keep the focus on the good.
“That’s what Emily would have wanted,” Blaize said. “A lot of good has already happened since then.”I can’t believe it’s already been a year. It doesn’t feel like a year at all,” Blaize said.Haugen says the last year has been very difficult on her family, especially on Blaize. “Emily was a spectacular young woman,” Haugen said.As they install Tonozzi’s creation, Blaize will be taking an Italian exam at Colorado Mountain College. But she says she will make it over to see the final product soon.For now she will focus on the good things that have happened since Sept. 26, 2006, and look for opportunities to do random acts of kindness.It’s what her friend would have wanted.
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