A Royal Raindrop tree was planted at Wiese Park on Saturday, June 17, in honor of the late Sabrina Ray, who passed way at sixteen years old in May. Perry resident Amanda Howard organized the Trees for Sabrina event alongside Brian West and Heather Watson.
Howard’s children previously attended the Rays of Sunshine daycare before the death of Ray.
“I feel guilty that I missed the signs of the abuse and I play it in my head,” Howard described. “I want to honor Sabrina because she did not deserve what happened to her.”
A tree in Wiese Park could bring awareness to child abuse, Howard believes, and will allow the community to remember her.
“I want to do what’s best for Sabrina,” Howard said.
After receiving donations for the tree, Howard learned the charity organization Project 52 offered to plant and provide Wiese Park with the tree.
The organization, based in Urbandale, was started by Dustin Blythe, Bill Clark and Pastor John Dawson, as a way to
provide trees to families who have lost children as well as children who have lost parents.
“It’s an honor to be here today to plant this tree in memory of Sabrina,” Dustin Blythe said to the crowd. Sabrina’s tree is the 250th tree for the charity organization.
Howard was asked to add Sabrina Ray’s name to a shovel that pays tribute to children who have been previously honored with a tree.
Project 52 picked out a Royal Raindrop tree in Ray’s honor, a tree which is disease resistant, adaptable and blossoms bright pink, red flowers. The tree sits in front of the playground equipment at Wiese Park.
After placing Sabrina’s tree in the hole, members from the crowd got the chance to each scoop a pile of dirt back into the ground.
Later, a prayer was said in honor of Sabrina and to bless the tree.
A plaque and bench will be placed next to the tree later this week.