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In memory of Miana: Jewelry to benefit scholarship fund

October 16, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

GERRARDSTOWN, W.Va. - Mary and Randy Stewart believe that every time someone wears a Miana necklace and earrings, it's a chance to keep the memory of their daughter alive.

Premier Designs, a direct jewelry business, has designed and named a necklace-and-earring set after the Stewarts' late daughter.

Miana Stewart, the couple's only child, was murdered in Oct. 13, 2005, during a burglary in the family's home. She was 14 years old.

Mary said during a recent Premier Design event she saw many people - mostly strangers - wearing the necklace. And she's had people tell her that they've seen local women wearing the necklace, as well.

"People will go through the bank drive-thru and the bank teller will say, 'Hey, you're wearing a Miana necklace,'" she said.

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Mary Stewart, an independent distributor of Premier jewelry, said Stacey Butler of Inwood, W.Va., a family friend and fellow Premier distributor, was instrumental in making Miana's pieces part of Premier's collection.

Butler approached Rhonda Banks of Inwood, who represents Premier Designs in the South, about naming a piece after Miana.

The result is a 16-inch necklace with seven heart-shaped charms in antiqued matte gold, silver and copper plate finishes. A pair of silver heart earrings match the necklace.

Banks was one of members of the committee who selected the piece, which debuted in the 2009-10 Premier catalog during a rally in Dallas in July. The Stewarts were notified during the rally that the necklace-and-earring set would carry their daughter's name.

Mary said she liked the design noting that the hearts would appeal to other girls, who, like her daughter, are into horseback riding.

"She loved to ride horses," Mary said with a smile.

And, Mary said, she's sure Miana would have loved having jewelry named after her especially because one of her two favorite things was hearts (the other was butterflies).

"She would have thought it was neat," Mary said. "She was a real girly-girl."

The heart is also a representative of the type of person Miana was.

"Anyone who knew her said she had a kind spirit," Randy said.

On their daughter's birthday, Nov. 28, members of the Stewart's church, Gerrardstown Presbyterian Church, will wear the necklaces in honor of Miana. She would have been 19 years old.

Monies that Mary collects from personally selling the necklace will be donated to the Miana Stewart Scholarship, which was set up four years ago in honor of their daughter. Additionally, several local distributors will also donate their proceeds, Randy said.

Randy said one woman from Colorado, who heard about their story from another friend in Florida, notified the family she would be donating her proceeds, too.

Last year, the family awarded seven $1,000 scholarships and one $500 scholarship to girls who would have graduated with Miana.

As a way to replenish the scholarship fund, Mary said she wanted to use the money she received from selling the jewelry.

"We really want to keep it going because it's really been a blessing," she said.

Mary said her daughter was a "sweet girl" and loved attending school.

"She would write her teachers thank-you notes for being her teacher," she said.

Miana, she said, had dreams of being a veterinarian, but her second choice was to be a teacher.

Randy Stewart said the scholarship is about recognizing people who were like their daughter. Students must have a least a 3.5 GPA, which Miana had. They also must have accomplished at least one of the following: lettered in a varsity sport (Miana played basketball), participate in a musical group (Miana played the violin and clarinet) or be a member of the FFA (Miana was an animal lover).

"The past recipients have told us they view it as an award to be given this scholarship, so we know it's not just about the financial assistance," he said.

"Miana stood for everything good and they view it as an honor."

He said many of the recipients have sent thank-you notes thanking them about the scholarship.

The scholarship is yet another way to give back to the community. Mary said friends, neighbors and strangers were very supportive after Miana's passing. The family also holds a toy drive called Miana's Christmas Angels every year during the South Berkeley County Community Christmas parade, which will be Dec. 6 this year.

"We miss Miana so much, but with the continued support of so many people, we know that her spirit is alive and doing great," Randy said.




If you buy ...

The Miana necklace sells for $33.39 and the earrings cost $18.55.

To purchase the Miana necklace or earrings, contact Mary Stewart at mestew10@aol.com

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