VALLEY PARK, MO (KPLR) – Nearly a dozen years ago a 6-year old Valley Park child was abducted and killed not far from her home. Today her friends are preparing to graduate from high school and her family is helping them prepare for the future.
The family of Casey Williamson launched a scholarship fund in her name a year after her death. Her great aunt Della Steele says they were inspired by the Valley Park teachers group that re-named their annual high school scholarship in the child`s name. To date the Casey Williamson Memorial Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $4500 to graduating seniors in the southwest St. Louis County school district.
Steele and Casey`s mother Angie Wideman say they are nearing their goal of providing a scholarship to each of Casey`s classmates this year who pursues further education. A savings bond will be given to those who enter the military after graduation.
An annual 5K run has raised funds for the scholarships. ' We just feel like she lost out on so much that she could have done in her life , but they still have all their opportunities in front of them so we want them to go out and make a difference in the world and we want to help them do that,' Steele said.
Saturday members of the Class of `14 held a picnic to celebrate Casey`s memory. They recorded the event in photographs to be used in a yearbook feature on their friend who never had a chance to grow up. 'We had the same kindergarten class so we would always hang out. We were kind of tied to the hip most of the time,' explained Karina Whitney who helped organize the event with other members of the high school yearbook staff.
Whitney believes her friend`s death helped her grow up strong and pushed her to do more. She plans to use her scholarship toward a degree in special education.
'I want them to succeed in life,' said Wideman as she shared in the picnic. She has kept up with many of her daughter`s friends from kindergarten, but admitted 'this day is very bitter sweet for me.'
There are 64 members of the Valley Park Class of 2014. They count Casey Williamson in spirit as number 65.
You can donate through the Valley Park School District at 1 Main Street, Valley Park, MO, 63088; attention Kathy Smith, 636-923-3690.
There`s also a website in Casey`s memory: rememberingcasey.org
Family And Friends Remember Casey Williamson