Fundraisers Planned for Memorials for Schaffhausen Girls
Posted at: 07/19/2013 4:22 PM
Updated at: 07/19/2013 6:25 PM
By: Stephen Tellier
Amara, Sophie, and Cecilia Schaffhausen died too soon.
But a year after the girls were murdered by their father at the family's Wisconsin home, the River Falls community is rallying together to raise money in honor of their memory.
Jessica Schaffhausen, the girls' mother, wants to build a memorial playground to honor her three daughters. She'd also like to see the family's previous home could be used for some kind of public good. Both efforts will likely require a lot of money.
That's where the community can step in.
In August, the former Schaffhausen home will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. But Jessica Schaffhausen said she has other ideas. She shared those ideas this week after her ex-husband, Aaron Schaffhausen, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.
"I just want it to be a source of positive energy, not so much negative," Jessica Schaffhausen said.
Now, a local philanthropist is floating around an idea on Facebook of pooling private donations to buy the home, and then leaving its future up to Jessica. She has suggested using the home for firefighter training or converting the property into a community garden.
It's just the latest example of her finding strength in strangers, she said.
"I had never known the girls, but my heart broke for them," said Hannah Bellrichard, a recent high school graduate, who is helping organize a 5K fundraiser Saturday morning.
Bellrichard and her friend, Samantha Jensen, also are trying to turn a tragedy into a triumph of the human spirit.
"I wanted to do something to pay it back to the family and do something to remember the girls," Jensen said.
Their idea became the 5K fundraiser - a run to remember the three girls.
"Mile one will have pictures of Amara, and balloons of Amara's favorite color, and then Sophie and Cecilia," Jensen said.
All the money raised will go to building a memorial playground - designed just the way their mother imagines it.
"Something that's living and breathing, something that children can grow on and get something out of that interacts with them in the way that a playground does. It creates memories, it doesn't just honor memories," Jessica Schaffhausen said.
On Thursday night, the number of runners registered for that 5K reached 1,000.
As for the effort to purchase the old Schaffhausen home, that may take more time. If they can buy the property, it may have to be re-zoned - requiring a few more hoops to jump through.
The group is looking for anyone who's interested in donating to help build a pool of money - which could get the attention of the bank handling the foreclosure sale.
The run begins 8 a.m. Saturday, July 19, at Hoffman Park in River Falls. Registration is available in person starting at 7 a.m.