The world stood still on that late March evening, as word began to travel about a horrific murder-suicide. Our tiny, rural Pennsylvanian community mourned, in shock that my mother, Gail Koppenhaver, was the homicide victim in this tragic domestic abuse incident. My mom died, the victim of gun violence two days before my 20th birthday.
Her beautiful smile, sense of humor and positive outlook lit up the lives of everyone she knew. Her coworkers, friends, customers and acquaintances all recognized the kindness and genuine happiness she brought into the world.
In addition to a career in banking/advertising, my mom was a dance teacher. She taught hundreds of dancers during the years she spent at the studio. My mother adored these children and took pride in her creativity and passion for the arts.
In 2008, my dad and I created the Gail Koppenhaver Dance and Scholarship Competition to give back to the community in her memory. Dancers from the region compete, share their talents and raise money for the GK scholarships. We have awarded over $100,000 to college seniors in the past 14 years … all in her memory.
Twenty years later … I miss my best friend.