• Nativity students remember Blair with special event

  • Madilyn Markel has a photo hanging in her locker at Nativity of Mary Catholic School. In it, the seventh grader is smiling and has her arm around her friend, Blair Shanahan Lane.

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  • Madilyn Markel has a photo hanging in her locker at Nativity of Mary Catholic School. In it, the seventh grader is smiling and has her arm around her friend, Blair Shanahan Lane.
    More than a year after the then sixth grader was killed by stray gunfire at a Fourth of July party, Madilyn, along with the rest of her Nativity classmates, are still remembering the kind and vibrant girl.
    “She was such a good person,” Madilyn said. “She was always the first person to apologize if she thought she had said something wrong. Losing her has been very hard. We really miss her.”
    Blair was attending a Fourth of July party with her family in July 2011 when she was struck by a bullet. She died the next day, and the school celebrated the life of the young girl who loved pink and green during a special Mass at the start of the 2011-12 school year.
    Aaron Sullivan, 50, was sentenced to three years in prison earlier this year. The Kansas City man was charged with involuntary manslaughter and acknowledged that he owned the gun and had allowed others to fire it.
    But Blair’s spirit and memory are still alive at the Independence Catholic school. As part of the school’s first-ever fall sports pep rally today, students, families and community members will be able to donate socks for Blair’s Foster Socks organization. Blair had hoped to create the program as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. The goal was to collect socks that would be given to homeless and foster children. After her death, her parents and classmates continued on as Blair would have wanted.
    “We have been collecting socks ever since,” said Elise Bishop, one of Blair’s classmates at Nativity. “I think it has helped with losing her, helping with a program that meant so much to her.”
    Kim Felz, physical education teacher at Nativity, said athletics and physical fitness have always been a big part of the Nativity of Mary culture, which led to the pep rally. Of the students who attend the school, 85 percent are involved in athletics. The school also offers the Girls on the Run program, of which Blair was a member.
    “Having an event like this is a way to get families out and involved,” she said. “Linking it with the foster sock program was an easy decision because Blair is still very much missed at our school.”
    Felz said she is not at all surprised that the students in Blair’s class decided to pick up right where she left off. She said the students have a “passion” for helping others, and it is a way for them to deal with the incredible loss of losing someone so young.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It is an opportunity for them to give back to the community,” she said. “They like to be involved, and they like to do things for others. It is also a way that they can support Blair.”
    On the Blair’s Foster Socks website, blairsfostersocks.org, Blair is described as pragmatic, compassionate and “determined to fix the problem.” Although the Gold Award is typically completed by juniors and seniors in high school, she had already started filling journals with ideas for the project.
    Now, the non-profit organization collects socks as well as other clothing that can be donated to foster care children. Monetary donations for the Blair Shanahan Lane Memorial Fund can be made to Blue Ridge Bank and Trust, 6202 Raytown Trafficway, Raytown, Mo. 64133. Sock donations can also be dropped off at The Summit Methodist Church, 114 S.E. Douglas St., Lee’s Summit.
    “I hope that people start to give more socks to Blair’s project and when they do, they think of Blair,” said Brion Dennis, a Nativity seventh grader. “I think it is also a way to help our class get through these hard times. It makes me feel good to think that we are involved with something that was so important to her.”
    Triniti Ogletree, a seventh grader at Nativity, just moved to Independence this year and did not know Blair. She said she feels like she is paying tribute to the girl, who touched so many lives.
    “I understand how it feels to loose someone like that. I hope that those who come to the rally understand how her family and everyone feels about losing her,” she said. “I wish I would have known her. She sounds like a loving and kind person.”

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