Faces in the Crowd: Live Like Lilli Foundation
The Nehring family shares how they are turning the loss of their daughter into a way to inspire others. It is now their family mission in her honor to 'Live Like Lilli.'
RAPID CITY, S.D. — ‘See Good, Do Good, Share Good.’ That is the mantra for the Nehring family is advocating — inspired by their daughter Lilli, who passed away two years ago in a car accident at the age of 13. Her parents describe her as a lover of life. She loved to dance, sing, play instruments, run, and cook, but most importantly, she did everything with a full body experience. Her passion for loving others was contagious.
Joshua Nehring, Lilli’s Dad, says “When family comes to visit, she’s the first one out the door to go and give them the most giant squealing hug … when she would come into a room, she was just a presence … a lot of energy, very high energy.”
The pain was unimaginable for the family after her death, but the outpouring of love from family, friends and the community was really what helped them though the toughest of times.
Stacy Nehring, Lilli’s mom, says, “Gratitude I say is like magic. It really does do wonders for you. Of course there’s the times that it hurt to breathe, it hurt to touch her things and just that, but when I did those things they were hard but they did help heal … and then starting the foundation has really been therapeutic for me because when you do something for other people it just helps it really does.”
The Live Like Lilli Non-Profit Foundation provides opportunities for middle school age youth to plan, create and perform their own service projects. It also provides dance scholarships to youth at Girls Inc. Her parents say they are treating Lilli’s death not as a tragedy, but an opportunity to spread the message of love and kindness. They encourage everyone to find little ways to give service to others, whether it is opening a door for someone or sharing a smile. It’s the Lilli way of life — a way to heal and to stay close to their daughter.
Joshua says, “On a spiritual note, Lilli has been able to be present in a way that I think none of us and our family had anticipated or expected. We felt in undeniable ways that she’s present when we do events on her behalf … we feel her in the most tangible way and that’s been miraculous.”
Stacy says, “It’s affirmation. She said to me ‘good job mom’ and ‘thank you.’ And just whenever I do feel her — it’s very strong, her spirit is. I guess you could say passionate, loving, peaceful — all those things.”
The foundation also advocates youth to limit social media comparisons and smart phone use (encouraging youth to look up from their phones and engage in life). They will be sponsoring a speaker, Colin Karchner, in September. Dates will be the 26th and 27th of September at five Rapid City middle schools and a parent night at Central High School and a community fireside at local church.
Click here to learn more about the ‘Live Like Lilli’ Foundation.