Forever 7 Foundation honors the memory of seven-year-old Chrisyah Stephens
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- A local foundation honored the memory of seven-year-old Chrisyah Stephens on her birthday, by gifting little girls in need doll houses before Christmas.
Monday would have marked Chrisyah’s ninth birthday. The first grader died in a drive-by shooting at a birthday party last year in South Bend.
Chrisyah’s mother, Shanette Smiley created “Forever 7,” a foundation that gave Barbie Dream Houses to local little girls, a special toy that Chrisyah’s mother said she loved and was given to her on her last Christmas before she was killed .
“She loved to play with her Barbie dream house, she liked to do homework, she loved school, she loved to be around her parents,” said Smiley.
The emotional mother got chocked up as she remembered her daughter.
This will be Smiley’s second Christmas without her only child, one of the reasons she said it’s her mission is to make other little girls smile like Chrisyah did, with the Forever 7 Foundation.
“To see other kids as excited as she was, make them dream big."
With the help of several community sponsors, 10 girls were gifted Barbie Dream Houses and Barbie dolls, not only serving as a symbol of love and support, but a message to empower the young girls to dream big.
“I’m happy and excited,” said seven-year-old Ko’Mari Ward, who received the gifts from the Forever 7 Foundation.
“For one it has a huge impact. I’m so thankful for Chrisyah Stephen’s mother for her strength, her courage, it’s really fascinating to have someone share such a traumatic event and a be so willing to share this day,” added Ko’Mari’s grandmother, KoMonique Thomas.
Ko’Mari, her grandmother, and other recipients said Monday’s gift meant so much more than just a Christmas present.
“Being that there was another seven-year-old girl and why this is taking place that and itself it speaks volumes in the foundation just to be a part of that it’s the words can’t even express or explain it," added Thomas.
The foundation said they plan to continue this tradition every year.
Chrisyah was among 14 kids under 18 all victims of gun violence last year. The suspect in her case was found not guilty last summer. ABC57 did reach out to the St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office about other potential suspects, but they have not responded yet.
Chrisyah’s mother also told ABC57 another big message from Monday night was asking the community to put the guns down.