Community begins slow healing process following tragedy
By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
The Belvidere community has been floored by the recent tragic car accident that took the lives of two teen-agers.
Friday, Feb. 24, Thalia Arredondo and Brenda Gutierrez were in a car accident. Both passed away at the age of 16.
Both students were members of the cheerleading squad at Belvidere North High School. With many friends and ties to the community, the tragedy has had far-reaching effects around Boone County.
“It is a difficult time for the students and staff in District 100 right now, especially for the students at Belvidere North,” Athletic Director Bryon Houy said. “Some of our students have lost loved ones, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. … but never classmates.”
In the midst of the catastrophe, the community as a whole has come out in full force offering support and comfort in any way possible for family, friends and each other.
Roadside memorials started almost immediately. Sunday, Feb. 26, alumni of the school organized a candlelight vigil that took place in the school parking lot that more than 500 people attended.
A Facebook group was also started that already has more than 9,000 followers around the country and that was able to organize a day where everyone would wear black to school in remembrance, not only at North, but also in other schools around the country. Discussions regarding a possible memorial scholarship fund are also under way.
In addition to all that, rival high school Belvidere even sent their cheerleaders as support to cheer for the Belvidere North basketball team in regional play.
“The outpouring of support from the community and around the area has been overwhelming,” Houy said. “It was great to see everyone in the community band together.”
The school district is offering counselors and support staff for any students or faculty in need of assistance.
“The healing process will take time, but our staff knows that our kids need us now more than ever and will do whatever is needed to provide support for our students,” Houy said.
Visitation for both Arredondo and Gutierrez will take place from 2 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 29, at Belvidere North High School. The funeral will be the next day at 10:30 a.m. in the gymnasium at the high school. You can view the obituaries and arrangements at buckwheelerhyland.com.
A memorial account has been established for Thalia and Brenda at BMO Harris Bank. To make a contribution, visit any BMO Harris Bank location and ask to make a donation to “The Perfect Two” account.
Costs will assist the families with arrangements, and there are hopes to also establish a scholarship in the girls’ names.
From the Feb. 29-March 6, 2012, issue
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