#AshlynStrong

Today our family attended the most amazing celebration of life.

A 12 year old girl  in our community was struck and killed by a car while riding her bike. For one week our community rallied behind the young girl, Ashlyn, and her family and prayed for a miracle. Sadly, she lost her life exactly one week after being hit. In that one week, our community tied ribbons around light poles, mailboxes, street signs, and trees. Our town was blanketed in the prettiest shade of blue, Ashlyn’s favorite color. (The community also tied red ribbons for the driver of the car who unfortunately was at the wrong place at the wrong time).

Ashlyn’s funeral was like no other I attended, it was anything but a funeral. Today was a celebration of her short, but amazing, life. Her celebration was held in the high school gym. Her visitation line wound around the outside of an entire basketball court. Her family asked everyone to dress in black and red, the school colors or in “Pirate wear” (our school mascot). The gym was full of flowers, pictures, momentos, friends, and family. Her little 12 year old body was dressed in her cheer/dance uniform in the school colors and she lay peacefully in a white casket. The family asked everyone to sign her casket using colorful sharpie markers.

At the end of the ceremony, Ashlyn’s friends, teammates, family, and community members sang “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. The song was the anthem used during the week of the unknown. The community prayed for her little body to fight to survive but after her passing it was a song to represent the struggle her family will now face. It was a heartwarming moment to see all her classmates, friends, dance coaches and her mother on the floor of the gym leading the full house of supporters in the singing of the “Fight Song.”

Our community of around 14,000 people lost an angel but during her time of fighting to survive she was providing an immeasurable gift to our community. She was bringing people together, people who cared deeply for her and others who had never met her.

Heaven gained a beautiful angel.

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