Well, for a few hours on a beautiful, sunny Autumn afternoon recently, almost 1,000 people just put “all of that aside” and met at the Noble and Greenough School here in Dedham. You see, less than 2 months ago (Sept. 7, 2013) Kristen and Joe Ahl, along with brothers Michael and Stephen, unexpectedly lost their 10yr. old daughter/sister, Nicole Marie.
It is said that there is no greater loss, than the loss of a child. For a parent, you must learn to “rebuild” your life. The family, siblings, classmates and friends, not only have to confront the loss of their “loved one”, but they all must find a way to adjust through this difficult time and continue on. More often than not, this is done with the love and support of family and friends. It is with their help, that you can find the strength to bravely put one foot in front of the other, and make it through each day. The most difficult time for all those involved is the first year. 5th grade had just begun for Nicole and her birthday was around the corner. Dedham Recreation Dance Class and Pop Warner Cheerleading had just gotten underway.
Though these few short weeks, have now begun to turn in to months, Kris and Joe Ahl wanted to stage an event to bring everyone together and “celebrate” the life of Nicole, and celebrate they did!
Just days after what would have been Nicole`s 11th birthday, the Ahl family and an army of family and friends, held the First (Annual) “Nicole Ahl Infinity Walk” – titled “Big Hugs” – at the Nobles School. With a brave face, Kris and Joe Ahl faced wave after wave of people who came out to show their support. The one-mile walk was followed by a “color explosion celebration” on the grounds of the school.
We had the opportunity to speak to Nobles` Amy McHugh, wife of Mike McHugh, the Director of Buildings and Grounds at the school. Amy told us that little Nicole had always wanted to be a part of a “Color Run”. These runs promote healthiness and happiness combined. Amy explained this to John Connors and the folks at the Color Run and was able to receive a 2,000 plus package donation of the safe, biodegradable powder paint to make this event happen.
Dedham Youth Commission Director, Rob Blaney, donated the sound equipment, and Nobles` student Derrick and 22-year Community Service Co-ordinator, Linda Hurley, were the D.J.`s for the day.
Maureen and Jerry Donahue donated hundreds of neon green rubber bracelets in Nicole`s memory.
Thanks to Betsy Van Oot, close family friend and Nobles` Art Teacher, the grounds were adorned with beautiful photographs of Nicole and message boards for friends to share their thoughts.
There was a giant cookout and 500 t-shirts (that sold out in an instant) were on sale. Proceeds from the day`s event went to the Ahl Family Fund.
Nearing the day`s end, with a tear in her eye, Kris Ahl explained that “this whole experience was even better than she could have hoped for…” Now is the time for healing and for keeping the memory of a wonderful little girl alive in our hearts forever!
Story and Photos by: Joe Kilroy