WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 29, 2010, 08:26 AM

Somber anniversary marked with a touching tribute to Annie Gjesdal

Valley City, ND (WDAY TV) - Hundreds of people in the southern valley are remembering a life taken too soon after a tragic crash one year ago. Tonight, friends, family, and a community marked the somber anniversary with a touching tribute to Annie Gjesdal.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

Annie Gjesdal's mother is using her loss to inspire others. A special walk, dinner, and balloon release to remember Annie and help others at the same time.

It almost seems fitting.

“It's a much brighter day than it was last September 29th.”

A dark day Brenda Gjedsal will never forget.

“Which was about the blackest hole that I can imagine.”

That fall afternoon in 2009, her daughter didn't come home. The 18-year old was hit by a beet truck in Wahpeton. The truck driver, Cathleen Deen, is serving a year behind bars for negligent homicide after running a red light.

“And I don't want people to forget Annie.”

The days since have been difficult, but tonight, Brenda and hundreds of others are taking a step forward and remembering a life cut short.

“I just want to go and find a way for something positive to come out of her death.”

“Annie was a person who liked to smile and always seemed to have a good attitude.”

Education was a top priority for Annie. She wanted to become a doctor.

“She would've been going to school for many years and she would have loved every minute of it.”

With that no longer a reality, Brenda walks with a heavy heart, knowing with each stride, proceeds from the walk will make another teen's dreams of an education come true.

“I could just stay home and feel sorry for myself.”

But it's the comfort knowing her daughter's legacy lives on, helping Brenda heal. That with each soaring balloon in the sky; Annie Gjesdal is smiling down, proud of her mom.

“She's my angel. Angel Annie.”

Donations can be sent to Valley Lake Boys Home in care of Karla Littke. P-O Box 411. Breckenridge 56520.

The money will be used for scholarships for Wahpeton students. Part of the proceeds will go to the fiancé of Wahpeton Specialist Keenan Cooper, who died in Afghanistan this summer.