ATTICA, Ind. (WLFI) - "Lance was on the boat, edge of the boat and Ryleigh kicked him off the boat and into the water," Staci Key said about her niece and brother-in-law. "She just loved being with Daddy."
Key's sister, 24-year-old Kelli Ward, lost her husband, 26-year-old Lance Ward, and two daughters, 3-year-old Ryleigh and 18-month-old Sage, when their home caught fire last month.
Still facing the pain of losing two grandchildren, Kelli's mother Brenda Mitton said she hopes her daughter will dedicate the land where her home once stood to her family.
"I would like her to take that area and just make a memorial there for them," Mitton said. "Put a garden in, flower garden, bird baths. Ryleigh loved to help me feed my birds and she loved animals, she loved dogs."
Community members are also making sure the young mother who's lost so much can have something to smile about. Various fundraisers have been held in her family's honor. A chili-cook off and silent auction Saturday brought hundreds to Attica.
Kelli's father, Mark Mitton, said the whole community, including the place the whole family works, as been supporting the family.
"It's been amazing. Everybody's helped out. Harrison Steel, all the surrounding counties, it's been excellent," Mark Mitton said.
Saturday's chili cook-off organizer Tamara McDowell said she and her sister wanted to help their old friend anyway they could.
"We've known her since elementary school and she's always been the sweetest person, and for her to lose what she's lost, it hits home, because we both have small children, and the other girls here helping have small children too," McDowell said.
Kelli's family said she's taking it day by day and is currently staying with family members.
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