Monica Flanigan Decker, Co-Chair ValPlayso Children's Committee
On Sept. 17, 2009, Kelli Longacre passed away from the rare heart disease Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection just three months after giving birth. There were no warning signs to indicate Kelli was at risk for heart disease. Her passing was a shock to all.
Since her death, Kelli's younger sister, Cassi Such, with the help of many family and friends, has organized a group (Team Kelli) to raise money and walk in memory of Kelli in the American Heart Association Heart Walk.
In the past three years, Team Kelli has raised almost $40,000 for the AHA Heart Walk. This year marks the five-year anniversary of Kelli's death. Cassi knew she wanted to do something different, something that felt a little more "like Kelli."
Hearing about the 2014 community build of ValPlayso- The Next Generation, Cassi knew this would be a great opportunity to raise money for the park and keep Kelli's memory alive.
ValPlayso happened to be the second-to-last place Kelli and Cassi spent time together before Kelli's passing.
"It was an easy choice," said Cassi. "It will benefit the whole community, and Kelli would be very happy. Kelli loved Valparaiso, and this donation will really represent her."
Kelli was once an elementary school teacher. At the time of her death, she was a nanny and a tutor to many wonderful children. She loved all of the Valparaiso parks but most frequently took her nephews and other children to ValPlayso.
"Kelli was a kid at heart; she loved the sound of children laughing and smiles on their faces," said Cassi. "She was the happiest and most giving person."
Cassi feels with this community build and new park, Kelli's memory will not get lost and, not only Kelli's family, but all families of the community will be able to enjoy at ValPlayso. With a goal of raising $20,000 by the community build, which starts on Oct. 6, the Kelli (Cleary) Longacre fund has already raised more than $13,000.
To make a donation, go to: www.gofundme.com/kelliclearylongacre
To learn more or to volunteer visit www.ValPlayso.com.