When 12-year-old Makenna Arildsen was hit and killed by a motorist while crossing Washington Road on Sept. 14, she left behind a close-knit community.
Her neighbors are dealing with their grief and disbelief by doing something positive in her memory.
The Makenna Project is a foundation set up in Arildsen’s name with plans to help not only her family, but children in need throughout the area. The group’s inaugural event is a 5K run starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at the pool where Arildsen once played.
“We wanted to do something because we knew Makenna,” said Jessica Dial, who put the Makenna Project together with Dee Ann Nunnery. “We wanted to see something positive come out of something so horrible.”
Both Dial and Nunnery’s children were friends with Makenna and were with her the day she died.
Dial said a balloon release at Evans Middle School, where Makenna was a student, was discussed but that the run, which will wind through her neighborhood, seemed more appropriate.
Proceeds from the event will go to Makenna’s
“She needs a headstone,” Dial said. “The medical bills have piled up. And we also want to do something to help children who are less fortunate.”
Dial said discussions for a slate of Makenna Project events have begun, including making the run an annual event.
“It’s a healing process for our neighborhood,” she said. “It really is something for our community, especially the kids.”
“We just want to make her memory last.”