KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A big weekend is coming up for the ForeverStrong Memorial Foundation, an organization started by Laurie Smith after she lost her husband and son the night of the Uber shooting spree in the Kalamazoo area in 2016.
Smith says helping others is the only way she can move on.
“Just like a family, the more you get together the stronger you are,” said Smith, the founder of the ForeverStrong Memorial Foundation. “And we have been apart for over a year, and we need to get back together and strengthen our community again.”
Last year the annual funfest was canceled and the soccer tournament moved out of state. But this year it’s back on in Kalamazoo County.
“It’s about the only thing that lights me up, is giving back and I get so excited when I see all these people out here playing soccer in memory of Tyler and families bowling and doing things like Rich and Tyler and Emily and I used to do. It gives me goose bumps,” said Smith.
These events help her heal after losing her husband and 18-year-old son Tyler during the random shooting spree. Judy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne, Mary Jo Nye and Mary Lou Nye also died during the shooting and two people seriously injured.
The Kalamazoo community was forever changed.
“I know we are not promised tomorrow. It’s a cliché statement that people say a lot. I was reminded of that on a personal level in 2016,” said Mickey Seelye with Seelye Kia of Kalamazoo.
Rich and Tyler Smith were killed at his dealership. The Seeley family is forever connected with the Smiths and will be taking part in this weekend soccer tournament in Tyler’s honor.
“I have a couple of friends I grew up playing soccer with that I lost contact with that are playing as well. That’s what I think Laurie wanted to do this for,” said Seelye.
On Friday Revel and Roll West on Stadium Drive will have food and games from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., followed by the soccer tournament put on by Tyler’s soccer coach on Saturday and Sunday at River Oaks Park. There will be 45 teams taking part in the soccer tournament.
“We welcome anybody,” said Daniel Bulley, owner of Dan Bulley Soccer School.
Part of the proceeds will go toward soccer scholarships. The rest will go back into the foundation which is still working to build a memorial field.