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Rock in Remembrance raises money for 'special girl's' family

March 04, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • 6-year-old Lennah Bailey dances as her dad's band plays in the Rock in Remembrance concert on Saturday held in downtown Hagerstown. Local bands played to remember South High student Anais Fournier who died in December and to help raise funds to aid her family.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Anais Fournier’s untimely death in December has left a lasting imprint on Mandi O’Brien, one of the 14-year-old girl’s many friends who turned out Saturday for a music-filled benefit.

“Anais was really nice to anyone she met,” Mandi said. “No matter who she met, she would never see the bad side of people. I’ve learned to not see the bad side of anyone because of her.”

More than 200 people purchased tickets to Rock in Remembrance, which was held at the Masonic Temple auditorium to raise money for Fournier’s family.

“It’s an amazing turnout,” said Anais’ mother, Wendy Crossland. “I didn’t expect this many.”

“She would be surprised and embarrassed,” Crossland said of her daughter’s likely reaction. “She would just be in awe that this many people came out.”

Crossland said the outpouring from the community has been inspiring to “just to make a change in people’s lives, to let other kids know that there’s dangers out there.” 

In December, Anais was pronounced brain dead at Johns Hopkins Hospital after suffering a “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity complicating mitral valve regurgitation in the setting of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome,” according to a State of Maryland death certificate.

Saturday’s event, which included performances by several bands, a 50/50 $500 drawing and a silent auction, joined other fundraising efforts, including the sale of a charm necklaces in Anais’ memory and the placement of donation jars at Arby’s restaurants in the four-state area.

Karen Smith, the operating partner of Arby’s in Hagerstown, said a little more than $700 in donations had been collected as of Saturday.

More than 50 of the necklaces have been sold since Christie Kelly, the mother of Anais’ boyfriend, Ethan, began making them about two months ago as part of a small fundraiser to help the girl’s mother with expenses resulting from the tragedy. And Kelly still was taking orders Saturday.

“It was something small, but something to help the kids mourn and remember her by,” Kelly said of the necklace fundraiser.

Also to be raffled Saturday was an electric guitar signed by the bands that performed and $228.97 in Sheetz convenience store gift certificates, according to Melissa Kepler, one of the event organizers.

“We definitely have a much larger crowd than what we were originally anticipating, which is just fantastic,” Kepler said.

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Kepler said in an email Saturday night that $7,000 was raised Saturday.

Kepler, who was one of Anais’ teachers at South Hagerstown High School, said she hopes to eventually establish a scholarship fund that would benefit a graduating senior who exhibits the “comparing, compassionate character that Anais lived and breathed every day.”

“She was a special girl. It’s a testament to how much of an effect she had on people around her,” Kepler said of the turnout.

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