TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) More than 700 miles away from where Keyla Salazar died in the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in late July, her memory was celebrated at the city park in Twin Falls, Idaho on Saturday.
Twin Falls residents along with their golden retrievers stand before a wreath laid at the Twin Falls City Park to honor the memory of Keyla Salazar. (KMVT/KSVT)
Keyla was shot and killed by a man with gun on July 28 at the festival, just days before her 14th birthday on Aug. 4.
The day that she died she left a note for indicating how she want a golden retriever puppy for her birthday. It was a story that Twin Falls resident Kelly Gunderson heard on the radio on her drive back home from Lake Tahoe.
She said that after hearing Keyla's story, she knew she had to act and decided to give Keyla the birthday party she would never get to have.
"Her birthday was last weekend, so I cried. And then I decided to put this event together, I started calling all the media," Gunderson said.
Gunderson efforts converged on the idea of inviting surrounding residents to gather in the City Park on Saturday, encouraging them to bring their golden retrievers to honor Keyla's memory and wish her a happy birthday.
Gunderson wasn't alone in the effort, Danielle Lemmon agreed with her idea of putting together a birthday part for Keyla and created the Facebook page Retrievers for Keyla Salazar
"I just wanted to show support for Kaylas family that we care," Lemmon said. "It's not a political stance or anything like its just show love and respect for her family."
The event brought area residents, golden retrievers, as well as individuals just wanting to wish Keyla a happy birthday on Saturday.
"I'm a current gun owner and 2nd amendment supporter," Joe Auth an attendee at the event said. "I'm just here to support them."
"We decided to come today to celebrate Keyla because Keyla wanted a golden retriever for her birthday," said Wendy Bell another attendee of Saturday's event.
With a "Happy Birthday Keyla" sign, a wreath with a golden retriever figurine, and dog toys and flowers those in attendance sat before what Kelly constructed to honor Keyla and wish her a happy birthday.
"I can't believe how many golden's showed up and the other pets and the toys and the flowers," Gunderson said. "All these people didn't know each other and they all came together to honor Keyla."
Gunderson went on to say that she hopes more events like this don't have to happen, and that hopefully more happiness starts to find it's way into the hearts of everyone recovering the loss of a loved one in the recent mass shootings.