24 South Bend girls given Barbie Dreamhouses in honor of Chrisyah Stephens, "Forever 7"

NOW: 24 South Bend girls given Barbie Dreamhouses in honor of Chrisyah Stephens, “Forever 7“

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- Tuesday, 24 seven-year-old girls were given Barbie Dreamhouses at the Excel Center at the second annual Forever 7 Drive. It's the last toy Chrisyah Stephens was gifted before her life was cut short.

"My reaction was so surprised," said Adele Linda Avance, one of the girls chosen to receive the gift. "Me and my dad really appreciate this and I never had a Barbie Dreamhouse."

The dollhouses were a gift from Shanette Smiley as part of her second Forever 7 Drive, honoring her daughter Chrisyah, who died at just seven years old.

"In honor of my daughter, our daughter, Chrisyah Stephens, who passed away two years ago to a tragedy," Smiley said. "And instead of celebrating a tragedy, or remembering a tragedy, I want to bring joy to the community."

Chrisyah was tragically killed in a drive-by shooting in South Bend, while attending a birthday party back in Aug. 2020.

"It's a healing stage for me," Smiley said. "It's still fresh, but I just want to change the narrative on how we remember Chrisyah,"  

At Tuesday's event, before allowing the girls in attendance to open their own gifts, Smiley played the video of her daughter opening a Barbie Dreamhouse.

"The vision came from her about 3 years when she was opening her Barbie dreamhouse," she said.

She got to see that same joy light up on 24 deserving girls, all selected from South Bend Schools.

"I felt the same thing I felt when my daughter opened up hers," Smiley said.

Chrisyah's parents are keeping their daughter's memory alive while celebrating what would have been her 10th birthday.

"Happy birthday to my baby," Smiley said. "Happy 10th birthday to my daughter."

And it's not just giving away the Barbie Dreamhouses, smiley has also started the Chrisyah Stevens scholarship in her daughter's memory.

The money raised is given to a graduating senior in St. Joseph County for any kind of trade school.

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