School classmates wash cars for Kelli O’Laughlin scholarship fund

Customers lined up for a car wash benefitting a scholarship fund in memory of Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Aug. 16 in LaGrange Highlands.

Some of the 120 drivers even skipped the wash, said organizer Mariah Walsh, a senior at Lyons Township High School and a classmate of Kelli since first grade at Highlands Elementary School.

“People just came up to us and didn’t even want the wash, but handed us the money,” Walsh said.

With donations from area businesses, students also held a raffle. Combined with receipts from the third annual car wash, they raised $2,000, Walsh said. Totals from the three car washes held at the Pleasantview Fire Protection District station totaled $6,000, she said.

Just after beginning her freshman year at LT, Kelli O’Laughlin, 14, was killed by an intruder in her Indian Head Park home Oct. 27, 2011. John Wilson, charged with the murder, is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 2.

Walsh said it’s difficult for classmates to begin school without Kelli, “but we know she’s always been with us and now in our senior year, too. She’s looking down on us.”

Residents of surrounding communities have rallied in support of her parents, Brenda and John O’Laughlin, in a variety of events and fundraisers, including an annual run in November and pack-the-place events at LT and Gurrie Middle School in La Grange.

Donations to the scholarship fund may be made online at www.kellijoyolaughlinmemorialfund.com.

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