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And on April 11, the family celebrated UMD’s first home softball game, designated as “1FOURMandy” weekend to honor the 2011 graduate. The team is retiring No. 14 and set up a fund in her name. They plan to raise awareness about domestic violence and money for Duluth women’s shelters.
“If it was anyone else, Mandy would want it done,” coach Jen Banford said. “She was selfless and always put other people first. We want her memory to stay alive and make sure she is never forgotten.”
So do friends like Natalia Becker, who spent what would have been Mandy’s 25th birthday Jan. 14 with Lisa Matula over Mandy’s traditional birthday meal at Red Lobster.
‘She’s in a good place’
“I miss her like crazy,” Becker said. “But I don’t think she would want us spending a lot of time mourning; she would want us to be happy and celebrate her. I know she’s in a good place and is at peace and not suffering.”
Alone in their living room, Mandy’s father is also comforted by replaying the slide show illustrating Mandy’s life, bringing back memories of taking her on motorcycle rides or playing catch. “It brings her life back every day,” he said.
“It’s still raw. … It’s alive with me every day,” he added. “I haven’t lost those feelings; I don’t know I ever will. … You don’t expect to lose a child.”
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 Twitter: @kellystrib