Girls raise money for friends

Talent show funds go toward Stamp's, Taber's memorial funds

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The bright orange Ashley Stamp memorial bracelets worn daily by McKenzie Worden and Jessi Eagerton have lost some of their color in the three months since their friend's death.

But the seventh-graders refuse to let time fade the memories of Stamp and Travis Taber, two of their Steamboat Springs Middle School classmates who died tragically in separate accidents last year.

"We wanted to do something for both of them so that Ashley's and Travis' parents know they'd never be forgotten," Worden, 12, said Tuesday. "We basically wanted to show our love for them."

But the girls weren't sure what exactly they wanted to or could do. The idea came to Eagerton one day while grieving Stamp's death.

"When I get upset, I dance," said Eagerton, 13. "And it just hit me. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, we should do a talent show.'"

Determined to make the talent show a reality, Worden and Eagerton spent the past couple of months organizing all aspects of the event. They got permission to use Steamboat Springs High School's auditorium, made posters and programs, recruited talent, organized auditions, announced the talent show in the Steamboat Today and on KBCR and held dress rehearsals, among other responsibilities.

Many people, including Worden and Eagerton, had their doubts about the success of the show, the girls said.

"I didn't really think it was going to happen at first," Worden said.

"No one did," Eagerton added. "Everybody doubted us."

But last Friday, with the help of their parents, middle school counselor Margi Briggs-Casson, music teacher Susie Ritter and other volunteers, the show was nothing short of a resounding success.

Nineteen acts took the stage to sing songs, dance and, thanks to an appearance by We're Not Clowns, juggle. Most of the performers were middle school students. A couple of high school and elementary students also performed. The evening was an opportunity to smile, laugh and have fun while remembering two well-liked students.

"I thought it went great," Eagerton said. "I can't even explain it. It was just so nice to feel so happy about things that have been so upsetting."

"I think it made me feel better about everything," Worden said.

Middle school Assistant Principal Jerry Buelter commended the girls' effort.

"It was really heartwarming," Buelter said. "It took so much work. They never let the negatives get in their way."

The talent show raised nearly $1,000 through ticket and concession stand sales, the girls said. The money will be split evenly and donated to the memorial funds established for Taber and Stamp after their deaths. Taber passed away Oct. 9, 2004, the result of a four-wheeler accident. Stamp died Dec. 19, 2004, after she was hit by a snowmobile while warming up for a ski race in Vail. The deaths of Taber and Stamp, who were both seventh-graders, hit the school and community hard.

On Tuesday, Eagerton and Worden said they hope their talent show and the money it raised for the memorial funds will help Taber and Stamp live on forever in the minds of those who knew them.

"Every time we think about them, we think of happy thoughts, not sad ones," Eagerton said.

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