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Foundation Updates

Update:  Trial

After the tragic events of May 26th 2010, the long and emotional rollercoaster of the investigation commenced. On December 6, 2010, Jose Louis Marquez was arrested and charged with murder. After 3 years of police investigations and diligent work by Prosecutor, Jason Kalish, Marquez was brought to trial in October of 2012. After 5 weeks of trial and less than 1 hour of jury deliberations, Marquez was found guilty of murder in the first degree. He was sentenced to life in prison, which is not as wonderful as it sounds. This sentence means a maximum of 25 years in prison. Not what our family wanted. The judge said he fully believed Marquez’s intent was only to rob Kyleigh, so he would not sentence Marquez to natural life in prison. At the present time, there is no mechanism for parole in Arizona. As it stands, Marquez will spend his natural life in prison if this does not change in the coming years.

Update:  Support Group

Since the formation of The Kyleigh Sousa Foundation in July, 2010, we’ve done some really wonderful things with your donations. In July of 2010, I formed a grief support group called Mothers of Angels. I have since met many families coping with the tragic loss of a child. Your contributions have provided support and relief to those families. We provide a meeting place, open sharing experiences, father’s night, sibling night, guest speakers, mind, body, and faith healers, etc.

We partnered with the Christopher J. Morrissey Foundation and the James Volpe Foundation and provided an entire weekend retreat at the beach for mothers who lost a child. This weekend included grief counseling, massage services, Reiki, yoga, food and housekeeping. All services and accommodations were paid for by the 3 Foundations, and the mothers were able to attend free of charge.

Update:  Foundation Scholarship

We awarded a scholarship to a Point Pleasant Borough high school student in need. The winner was Eric Mount. Eric’s father passed away from cancer shortly after Kyleigh’s passing. We chose his essay from the many we received, based upon his need and his sincere understanding of grief and all it encompasses.

Update: Kyleigh’s Heart Recipient

In September of 2012, I flew to California to meet Kyleigh’s heart recipient, Dawn. We met for the first time on the Dr. Phil Show*. If you have not seen the footage, you can watch it on YouTube “Time Does Not Heal All Wounds” Parts 1, 2 & 3*. This was a very difficult and emotional meeting. I’ve had a relationship with Dawn for some time; although that was the first time I met her in person. She is healthy and strong, and ever so thankful for her gift of life. My family and I are thankful a small part of Kyleigh lives on.

*Please note that any information pertaining to the Dr. Phil show is for informational purposes only. No proceeds from the Kyleigh Sousa Foundation were used for this purpose.

Update: Kyleigh’s Statue

For those of you who donated funds earmarked toward Kyleigh’s statue, the statue has been completed by artist, Brian Hanlon, and placed at Greenwood Cemetery in Brielle, N.J., on the 3rd angelversary of Kyleigh’s passing. The statue is a very moving piece of sculpture. I encourage all of you to visit Kyleigh and see this remarkable artwork by Brian Hanlon.

Update: Foundation Fundraising & Donations

There was a 5K run for Kyleigh put together by Bernie and Lauren Sousa, and another run “Friends & Family Running for Kyleigh,” in Pittsburg, created by Aly Dean, together with Bernie and Lauren. My family and I are so thankful to those who raised money on the runs for The Kyleigh Sousa Foundation.

Kyleigh’s friend, Larissa Kaim, hosted a fundraiser at The Shore House in Point Pleasant. All of Kyleigh’s hometown friends attended. What an awesome night!

On July 22, 2012, we held our first “Smile for Kyleigh Summer Gala,” at the Manasquan River Country Club. The Gala was a huge success and a beautiful tribute to Kyleigh. We will continue with this Gala in the future and look forward to seeing you at the next one in 2014.

The Kyleigh Sousa Foundation made a donation to the Ryan Diviney Foundation to help with the costs of Ryan’s care. Ryan was a West Virginia University student who was brutally beaten and left to die while attending West Virginia University. Ryan suffered a traumatic brain injury and has been in a vegetative state since 2009. His family struggles daily to maintain the cost of his care. Please visit www.ryansrally.org for more information on Ryan and his family.

Bernie started Ky’s Lounge and Ohana, devoted to Kyleigh’s memory. He and Lauren welcomed their first child in 2012. Michael is now in his senior year at West Virginia University. He was elected President of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity and has been an achiever and highly regarded by his peers. Bernie, Michael and Lauren have worked tirelessly for Kyleigh’s Foundation.

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The reason we have been able to accomplish so much is because of you. Your time, your donations, your thoughts, your dedication, your helping hands, all of this means so much to us. It is with hearts filled with love and appreciation that we thank you. We are grateful for your compassion and continued support, but most of all grateful to you for not forgetting Kyleigh and all she meant to us.

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