Friends and family aim to keep murdered teen's memory alive

November 11, 2012 (WESTERN SPRINGS, Ill.)

Hundreds came to Lyons Township High School with a purpose. Family, friends and even those that never knew 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin laced up their shoes and ran for her.

"It shows how many friends she did have. She never said she had one best friend, they were all her friends," her mom Brenda O'Laughlin said.

In October 2011, O'Laughlin was murdered when she interrupted a burglary at her Indian Head Park home.

It has been over a year since her death but it is still very difficult for her family. So they keep busy and keep her memory alive with events like "Run for Kelli".

"Run for Kelli" is a series of runs and a walk to raise money for the Kelli Joy O'Laughlin Memorial Fund. The fund aims to help provide education for others through college scholarships and other charitable activities.

It has already raised enough money to award scholarships to two seniors at Lyons Township, where O'Laughlin was a student, and for new uniforms for the tennis team, her father John O'Laughlin said.

The idea for the fund was inspired by O'Laughlin's love of helping people and giving back to the community, according to her father.

"It says volumes that they want to support the effort and keep Kelli's memory alive," he said. "I think that's one of the first things my wife always says, that she wants to keep Kelli's memory alive. We're doing a good job of that so far."

For her friends, this event is not necessarily about raising money but rather taking a moment to raise the community's spirit and to always remember their dear friend.

"It was fun, it was good to have all the friends around running and supporting each other," O'Laughlin's friend Elizabeth Johnson said.

"We have been doing all the fundraisers for her and we know we should support her and we did this for her," friend Melissa Marston said.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.