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Garden in Blue Ridge Summit reflects lives Bowders touched

October 05, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. - Lori Bowders never realized how many lives her 19-year-old daughter, Amanda, touched until a tragic sledding accident that claimed Amanda's life in 2007 sparked the small mountaintop community of Blue Ridge Summit into action.

Standing in the raw dirt of the new Amanda K. Bowders Memorial Garden this week, Bowders shook her head in awe at the sight unfolding on the square in Blue Ridge Summit.

A crew of landscapers, led by family friend Brian Stum of B&D Landscaping, planted a handful of pink dogwood trees around the neatly tilled garden, where earlier in the week local Girl Scouts planted dozens of pink daffodils.

Nearby, Girl Scout leader Carol Eberly talked with Ken Gilland of Gilland Memorial Works about the monument and engraved pavers that would be the focal point of the memorial as friend Lynn Ford coordinated the garden dedication and tree lighting with Deputy Fire Chief Jim McCleaf.

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"I am overwhelmed," Bowders said. "I can't get over the response."

Amanda died on Valentine's Day 2007, when she sledded into a pole that supports playground equipment at Hooverville Elementary School on Pa. 16 east of Waynesboro.

Ford had known Amanda since Amanda was a wide-eyed young Girl Scout, and as she called family and friends to spread the news of the tragedy, she felt that something should be done to honor the young woman whose smile could light up a room.

"I should have been calling to invite people to Amanda's Gold Award ceremony, that's the highest award in Girl Scouts, but instead, I was calling to tell them about a tragedy," Ford said. "I felt something positive needed to come out this."

Ford said she wanted to create a living memorial that could grow and involve the entire community.

With the Blue Ridge Summit Fire Department's blessing, Stum broke ground on the garden in late September.

Stum said he tried to keep Amanda in mind as he picked trees and flowers for the garden and drafted plans for a gazebo and monument.

The generosity of the community has funded the garden through donated time and money, Ford said.

On Nov. 29, the fire department and Ford will dedicate the garden by inviting Lori Bowders and her husband, Robert, to light the large pine tree on the square for the first time.

While Amanda would have hated being the center of attention, Ford said Amanda touched too many lives to be forgotten.

Scrawled on the monument are these words: "Mandy's bright sunny disposition and spirit will remain alive in all our hearts and through her three passions in life: faith, music and her love of children."

Buying pavers

Anyone interested in purchasing pavers for the Amanda K. Bowders Memorial Garden can call Lynn Ford at 717-794-2770 for an order form. Each 6-inch-by-10-inch paver costs $125 and can include up to 20 engraved letters.

Order forms or donations to the project can be mailed to Lynn Ford at P.O. Box 7, Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17214. All checks should be made payable to The Amanda K. Bowders Memorial Garden Fund.

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