Forever in our Heart' raises funds
Student group honors memories of deceased children by helping Heartly House
Urbana Middle School has been struck by tragic losses in the past two years.
In 2007, the school suffered through the murders of David Brockdorff and his family, and earlier this year, the school lost Ian Willis to a chest infection.
Following the murder of David Brockdorff, 12, who had been a student at Urbana Middle before transferring to a school in Woodbine, students at the school created Forever in Our Heart, a group which has raised money for Heartly House, a Frederick organization that helps victims of domestic violence.
On Tuesday, the last day of school, the group sold candy bars, chips, soda, cotton candy and snow cones for $1 apiece to help raise money. As children gathered in the cafeteria to sign Ian Willis' yearbook, which the group planned to give to his parents as a memorial, they also rushed outside to buy snacks and colored Sharpie markers to sign yearbooks.
Montgomery County police discovered the bodies of David's family, including his mother Gail Pumphrey, 43, and his sister Megan, 10, and brother Brandon on Thanksgiving Day 2007 in Unity Park, which is east of Laytonsville in Montgomery County.
Police found the children's father, David Peter Brockdorff, 40, of Urbana with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a wooded area next to the park.
Pumphrey intended, according to her family, to become involved with helping other victims of domestic violence before she died, and Forever in Our Heart members chose to honor them by contributing to Heartly House.
Socializing in the cafeteria on Tuesday, several members of Forever in Our Heart talked about its importance to Urbana Middle, and the importance of remembering their absent friends.
Stefan Lapcevich, also 14 and an eighth-grader, said David was one of his best friends. He remembers David being very quiet and kind, and misses sleepovers and after-school hangouts with him.
"We created [Forever in Our Heart] to stop domestic violence, or to help people who suffer from it, but also to remember those who we lost," he said.
Michael Gardner, a 14-year-old eighth-grader, remembered David loving sports, especially the New England Patriots. He echoed sentiments that David was a kind child. "He was very conscious of how others were feeling," he said. "This program has helped make the people in our community aware of how touched we were to be friends with these kids," he said.
Michael McCarthy, a 14-year-old eighth-grader, knew David very well, recalling that "he was a really good kid who was never mean to anyone." To honor David's memory, Michael McCarthy said that the group has held teen nights and various fundraisers for Heartly House.
"I really think it's important to show that kids our age really can make a difference," he said. "We can do something for our community."
Kevin Heine, 14 and an eighth-grader, said he knew Ian Willis, who was 13 when he died of complications of surgery needed to relieve fluid build-up in his chest in February.
Kevin said he felt it was important to honor him. The group had decided to give money to Best Friends Animal Society, a Utah-based organization that tries to reduce the number of animals in shelters, as a tribute to Ian's love of animals. He said that Ian was a quiet boy, who would only really talk to people who came up and talked to him. However, he would open up to those who knew him, Kevin said.
"I always played X-box with him after school," Kevin said, remembering that Ian's favorite video game was "Halo."
So far this year, Forever in Our Heart has raised close to $4,000, according to Judy Tobler, a parent volunteer. The group will count up the funds raised over the summer, and in the fall plans to divide it between Heartly House and Best Friends Animal Society to honor the children, according to Julie Amagashie, another parent volunteer.
She said the group would not know the total of Tuesday's "Sweet Endings" fundraiser until its fall meeting.
E-mail Christian Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.