Pay It Forward: Garden honors Casa Grande children - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Pay It Forward: Garden honors Casa Grande children

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© CBS 5 © CBS 5
CASA GRANDE, AZ (CBS5) -

Casa Grande has seen its share of terrible crashes caused by dust storms but the one Interstate 10 just before Christmas three years ago still haunts the community.

Two teens from the same family were killed in a massive pile-up.

Casa Grande is making sure their memories and those of all young people taken too soon will be remembered forever.

"From the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep, I miss them," Mark Eide said. "I wake up, tell them 'good morning' and I go to bed and I tell them 'good night' and I don't think that will ever change."

Eide still struggles to speak of his unimaginable loss. In one terrible moment, two of his children, 17-year-old Katie Eide and 14-year-old Zach Eide, were killed when dozens of cars collided on a stretch of I-10 during a dust storm.

Katie was just months from her high school graduation.

Mark and his wife, Sandy, were searching for a way to honor the memories of not only their children but all young people recently lost in their city and with the help of the Casa Grande Youth Commission, they've come up with The Garden of Sunshine.

"Sunshine" was Zach Eide's nickname. When the garden and memorial is completed, it will include a free-standing wall with 18 suns, containing the name of Casa Grande children who have recently passed away.

"Many times when a child is lost, people don't know what to do, they don't know what to say, they want to do something and so the Eides put away their grief, they sat down with our kids and said 'let's come up with an idea together,'" Youth Commission Advisor Donna McBride said.

McBride's group has already raised $8,000 through many fundraising activities like selling tie-dye T-shirts.

McBride said the Eides, in the midst of their grief, were the inspiration for the garden.

"They wanted to give back to their community in the name of their son and daughter and that is one of the most selfless acts that we can have as somebody in our community," McBride said.

McBride contacted CBS 5 News to pay it forward to the Eides so they can complete the park.

"Even today, there are still times where it goes over you, brand new and you still can't believe it," Mark Eide said.

But this garden memorial will display to the world how much the children are loved and insure that the memories of them will never fade away.

To help with the garden or learn more on the project, go to casagrandeaz.gov.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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