1,000 balloons fly to the sky in deceased teen's honor

1,000 balloons fly to the sky in deceased teen's honor

Family, friends, and even strangers came together to raise money for a mourning family.
SYRACUSE, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Family, friends, and even strangers came together to raise money for a mourning family.

A sky full of 1,000 glimmering teal balloons—it is a cheerleader's version of a candle-light vigil.

"I think it's just a really great way to just celebrate her life. Letting off balloons is happy, it just brings happy thoughts…" said Keyera Taylor, a Syracuse High cheerleader.

Fifteen year-old Marli Hamblin was sunbathing in her driveway last week, when her older sister backed out of the garage and over her—not knowing she was there. The Syracuse High cheerleader succumbed to her injuries 2 days later.

"I didn't think it was real at first," said one of Marli's friends. 

…But it was, and Marli's fellow cheerleaders could not go back to practice without her.

"There was a hole, literally in the floor, where Marli should've been, and the girls were lost. They just kept looking for her. She should've been there, and she wasn't," explained Charlene Jensen, a Syracuse High cheer mom.

That emotional practice is what sparked the idea to reach out beyond the squad and beyond the school.

“They wanted to have a way to be able to help the family with all the costs that are associated with everything,” said Stefanie Bowen, Marli’s former cheer coach.

Now, the entire community is celebrating 'Marli's Miracle.' The saying originally referred to hopes and prayers that Marli would survive, but after she died, it took on a whole new meaning.

"The family had a very tough decision to make, and they made the bravest, and the most unselfish decision they could make. They turned Marli into an organ donor, and they've changed thousands of lives with that," said Jensen.

Marli's friends say she would not want people dwelling on her death for too long. Though no amount of money can ever compensate for this tragic loss, they say the fun-loving teen would be grateful for the outpouring of love.

"She'd be smiling. She'd be happy that she'd be on the news, or something like that..." laughed Whitnee Ritter, another cheerleader who grew up with Marli.

Syracuse volunteers sold wristbands and T-shirts, along with the balloons. They say tonight, alone, brought in more than $10,000. One-hundred percent of the proceeds will go straight to the Hamblin family to pay for Marli’s medical bills.

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