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I overcame what would have been my friend's sixteenth birthday

Joined: 5/7/2011
Posts: 2
On September 22, 2011, I woke up with pain in my eyes and a heavy heart. Because September 22, 2011 would have been my friend Danielle's Sweet Sixteen.
Danielle was taken from her home when she was only seven years old and brutally murdered by a neighbor. The day before what would have been her sixteenth birthday, her mother sent out a mass e-mail, telling everyone to celebrate the day by being kind to others, which is what Danielle would have done. Tears came to my eyes when I read the words.
I went to school and cried my way through the day. My boyfriend, always supportive, comforted me, but my mind was racing with thoughts. What would she have been like today?
I felt as if my heart was being stabbed by a white hot dagger as I imagined her murderer, rotting away in a lonely cell, a prisoner of his thoughts. My body seared with the fresh wave of pain from losing her, and I hoped he was feeling it, too.
I pushed myself through the day, doing what she would have wanted and helping others. I smiled at random people in the hallway that I did not know. I helped my lab partner in physics with the homework assignment. But, most importantly, I passed on the message. My biggest act of kindness was telling others to do acts of kindness, in Danielle's memory.
As the day came to a close, I realized that Danielle will always be missing out. Her life was taken from her when she was seven. She will never kiss a boy. She will never experience a high school prom. She will never know what it's like to watch hundreds of hats fill the air after graduation. But I knew, in my heart, that though she was no longer on Earth, her spirit lingers, in me, and in the lives of everyone she knew in those short seven years.
Although it was a day of tears and suffering, I knew that being kind to others was what Danielle would have wanted. And that is what really mattered.
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Comment by mcoly618

Joined: 5/2/2009
Posts: 472
Hi, I'm the PR Coordinator for Stage of Life. I'm leaving you this comment to let you know that your essay for our Teens and Overcoming Challenges writing contest was one of the finalists. Congratulations!

Here's the link to the contest summary page. We'll be formally announcing the winner soon.

Feel free to share this news with your friends and family. To be named an essay finalists in our national writing competition is a big deal. Our previous winners have been talked about on and other media outlets.

Congrats again. We look forward to seeing more of your essays/writing on Thanks for helping us in our mission of creating the world's largest pool of cross-generational stories.
Posted: Monday, June 6, 2011 6:42:15 PM
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Comment by kinzie52

Joined: 1/8/2011
Posts: 45
hey, just wanted to let you know that I could personally identify with your essay. actually, to be quite real with you, and i'm totally telling the truth, I had a cousin named Danielle who was murdered when she was seven. She was Danielle Van Dam, from California.
I'm just wondering if this was the same girl. David Westerfield was the guy who did it. not many seven year old girls named Danielle who died at that exact point in time from being killed, ya know? Contact me back, because whether or not its the same person I would love to connect with you and talk about it, because the same thing happened to me.
Regardless, wow! Good job on overcoming!!!!!
Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 2:29:25 AM
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Comment by kinzie52

Joined: 1/8/2011
Posts: 45
actually, i just checked and i'm pretty sure they're the same girl because my cousin's birthday was on september 22 as well. I can't believe you knew my cousin. i have some personal information to ttalk to you about, so if you can just email me ASAP i would be so grateful and so honored-
[email protected]
Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 3:41:45 AM
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