On Monday afternoon, a bench was placed alongside Sabrina Ray’s memorial tree, an area which sits directly across from the playground at Wiese Park. Since the passing of 16-year-old Sabrina in May, the community has rallied to remember a life that was taken at a young age.
On June 19, a Royal Raindrop tree was planted in honor of Sabrina, and the memorial bench had not made it in time for the unveiling.
Heather Ketelsen and her mother, Cynde Bach Burkett decided to make ribbons for child abuse awareness, which they later sold for individuals to wear during Sabrina’s memorial.
“We sold those at the vigil and the memorial service and had people contact me randomly and bought those,” Ketelsen described. “I bet we made probably close to 100 big ones and I think I made probably 2 or 300 little ones that you can wear.”
The ribbons totaled in around $2,000 of donations, all of which later resulted in the new park bench created by Petersen Manufacturing, Inc., a company based in Denison, Iowa. $1,500 of the funds went towards the bench and the remainder will be used towards a plaque for Sabrina.
Ketelsen is anticipating the plaque to say the following phrase: “Forever with the angels, always in our hearts, Sabrina. 2001 - 2017. Fly high with the butterflies, angel.”
The plaque comes from Crown Trophy in Grimes, Iowa.
“This is the first time I’ve done it [donated a memorial to the community] on my own,” Ketelsen described.
Ketelsen used to work closely with the food pantry at New Opportunities as well as events such as Toys for Tots.
After learning of Sabrina’s passing, Ketelsen wanted to honor Sabrina.
“The heartache of knowing what happened - having little kids, it’s just unimaginable to do.” Ketelsen said. “It really bothered me seeing people from different communities dredging on Perry.”