In January, Kayla Libby was excitedly preparing for a trip to help build the Pimentera Elementary School in Honduras when she suddenly fell ill and was forced to stay behind.
About a week after her fellow Students Helping Honduras member returned from the trip, Libby — a sophomore public health major — passed away unexpectedly Jan. 21 at Marlborough Hospital in Massachusetts.
Three months later, members of SSH and Libby’s sorority sisters in Alpha Omicron Pi came together Sunday afternoon for a 5K HonduRUN to honor Libby’s memory and raise $3,000 for the cause she was so passionate about in life.
About 100 runners lined up in front of the Kappa Alpha House for the run. The race went down Fraternity Row, across Paint Branch Parkway, around Lake Artemesia and back. The event also featured a live band, a DJ, free food, raffles and a release of 100 balloons in honor of Libby.
Libby’s parents also came out to show their support.
“I’m sure she brought us the beautiful weather,” said Erin Walsh-Libby, Kayla’s mother. “And I am sure if she was here she would be sitting right here about a step away [from the DJ stand], and would just enjoy the music and the food.”
The groups ultimately raised $2,200 — $800 short of their goal, but enough to begin work on the roof of the three-classroom school Libby planned to help construct.
“It’s gonna house about 80 children … and what they were studying in before was an abandoned building with no roof, which means that every time it rained classes was canceled,” said senior operations management major Sam Tiburzi, Students Helping Honduras’ president. “So they were only really going to school about three months out of the year … [SSH members] are really wanting to get the name out for Kayla and for the school she wanted to help build.”
Members of Libby’s sorority brought out a table at the event dedicated to Libby’s memory. Baby pink balloons circled the table, which was decorated with scrapbooks, messages from loved ones and Libby’s favorite pair of high heels.
“It’s for the group she loved,” junior neurobiology and physiology major Brittanie Hawkes said. “I know she wouldn’t like the entire table dedicated to her, but we just decided to do it. She would love this, she definitely would.”
Walsh-Libby said she was touched by the outpouring of support for her daughter’s favorite cause.
“It means the world,” she said. “When you lose your child tragically there is not a lot of good stuff that comes out of it, but both of these organizations have been very, very great keeping her memory alive.”
— Theresa Sintetos is a student blogger for The Diamondback