Posts Tagged ‘Compassionate Friends Livonia Chapter’

With heavy hearts, my wife and I attended the Compassionate Friends Candlelight Vigil held last night in Kellogg Park.  The vigil honors and remembers those children lost too soon.  Sadly, we were there to mourn the loss our dear friends’ daughter, Abby Giamporcaro.  While it is painful to watch people you care about suffer — we suffer too in having lost this beautiful young girl from our lives — it is good to remember the one you lost, in our case Abby.  The vigil was a great reminder that our loved ones are what matter most, especially around the holidays, and that we should never take our loved ones, especially our children, for granted.  I’m grateful we had the opportunity to attend.

The Observer & Eccentric has a nice article about the vigil:


When Shelby Gunn’s name was read during the Compassionate Friends candlelight vigil Sunday in downtown Plymouth’s Kellogg Park, it shot through Ralph Hodges’ heart like an arrow.

Hodges winced, and his gaze dropped to the ground as he wiped the tears from them, the name-reading a sharp reminder of the niece he lost when she was killed by a drunk driver on I-275 in Canton 16 months ago.

Hodges was at the annual candlelight vigil, sponsored by the Livonia chapter of the Compassionate Friends, along with his wife and Shelby’s aunt, Debbie Hodges.

“She left us far, far too early … This is a way we can express our feelings,” Debbie Hodges said. “I think (Gunn) would be proud to know we’ve kept her in our hearts and in our thoughts. If it was one of us, Shelby would be out here doing the same thing.”

The vigil drew hundreds of people to Kellogg Park, all mourning a friend, family member or loved one in one way or another. Hundreds of candles were lit in honor of children lost too soon.

Gunn’s name was one of more than 700 read by Compassionate Friends Gail Lafferty and Pat O’Donnell. Lafferty, a Livonia resident who lost her 18-year-old son son, Max, in a 1995 car accident, said the 700-plus names read were the most in the event’s 15-year history.

“Christmas is hard on parents who’ve lost their children,” Lafferty said. “It helps me get through the holidays. It’s a very special night.”

Kassi Gilbert of Canton attended Sunday’s vigil nursing perhaps the freshest pain. Her 14-year-old daughter, Abigail Giamporcaro, died suddenly Sept. 29. Gilbert said her counselor referred her to the Compassionate Friends organization, and she read about the vigil on the group’s website.

Gilbert said Abigail was “very energetic, full of bounce and spirit,” with “some attitude” not uncommon in teenagers.

“It was really hard to hear her name,” said Gilbert, choking back tears. “This is something you have to do to acknowledge she was here, and she was important. It helps us remember her and affirm how much we love her, and that that will continue, even though she’s not here.”

It was the second year attending the vigil for Teri Gunn, Shelby’s mother, a Westland resident who attended her first Compassionate Friends vigil last year just months after her daughter’s tragic death.

She said this year’s event was a bit tougher to take.

“I think last year I was pretty numb,” Gunn said. “The numbness has worn off.”



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