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The River Falls High School class of 2014 donated $2,000 in memory of Amara, Sophie and Cecilia Schaffhausen for the proposed Tri Angels playground in River Falls. The donation came from a portion of money taken in during admission to the 2013 Prom Grand March. Each year's prom committee chooses a cause to support. Above, back row, from left: Valerie Schmidt, Alex Kroll, Abby James, Kelsey Woyak, McKenzie Tirrel, Aleda McMonagle, Savanna Welch, Jessica Schaffhausen, Izzy Schaefer, Taylor Magill, Katarina...

Editorial: Out of darkness, giving way to a growing wedge of light

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opinion River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

It's reassuring to see how family, friends and caring citizens have recovered as best they can and are doing good deeds in the wake of the murders of the three Schaffhausen sisters in River Falls last summer.

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Last week in the Journal the girls' mother, Jessica Schaffhausen, discussed her own efforts to re-establish a more normal life and what she hopes is done so that her daughters' legacy will stand for something besides horror and tragedy.

Jessica said she will continue to make her home in River Falls. She feels a sense of great support here and finds solace that this is where her daughters grew up, lived and played with friends.

There are also things being done in River Falls to bring about "something positive" that are linked to her daughters' names. While Jessica herself isn't leading these causes, she's very pleased to see them take shape.

One is a memorial playground, with Hoffman Park the preferred site. The would-be builder is a nonprofit organization that builds "universally accessible" playgrounds. The one planned for River Falls would have three sections -- one symbolically related to each of the three sisters -- Amara, Sophie and Cecelia.

The daughters were described by their mother as always very active -- running, hiking and biking, often as they went back and forth from Glen and Hoffman parks. So an accessible playground at one of those beautiful parks would be a fitting testimonial to their young lives.

Two high school seniors, Samantha Jensen and Hannah Bellrichard, with connections to Jessica, are heavily involved on a 10-person playground fundraising committee. That committee has already set up a family friendly fundraiser called Tri Angels 5K Fun Run at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 20, at Hoffman Park. There's also a Tri Angels Benefit Fund at the River Falls State Bank where donations can be made.

The mourning period for Amara, Sophie and Cecelia, especially for those closest to them, like their mother, will never end. But now we see signs that beyond the unbearable grief there is hope, resilience, empathy and inspiration. And that's just the kind of legacy Jessica Schaffhausen would have us embrace.

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