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Support grows for Shine On For Shelby movement

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Posted at 11:17 AM, Oct 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-02 11:17:22-04

Last fall, the Meikle family went to pick out flowers for their long-time neighbors.

Cindy and Terry Fazio, a couple they have lived next to for more than 10 years in Lapeer, had recently lost their 23-year-old daughter Shelby to a violent crime.

They delivered the flowers--which came in a decorative pumpkin vase-- and quickly learned that Halloween was one of Shelby's favorite holidays.

It was then that the seed of an idea was planted.

"It just came up during conversation one night," said Kevin Meikle. "It was mostly my wife and son."

Kevin's wife Peggy and their then 11-year-old son Andrew with the help of his sister Sara decided they wanted to grow a pumpkin patch for a greater good. With permission from the Fazios, they drafted their plan to plant hundreds of pumpkin seeds, grow them, sell them and put the money toward the Grand Valley State University scholarship fund created in Shelby's name.

"We've got five acres here," said Meikle. "We saved all of the seeds from the pumpkins we bought last year."

They ended up planting more than 800 seeds on 10,000 square feet of their front lawn.

"We spent all summer out there watering and weeding, and there were vines growing everywhere," said Meikle.

The vines were promising, but when it was getting closer to harvest, the Meikles' lofty pumpkin patch dreams started to diminish.

"We started to get a little nervous about it," said Meikle. "Two weeks ago, we made our first harvest of 14 pumpkins, it wasn't nearly as many as we had hoped."

Still, they brought over one to Cindy and Terry, explaining that their patch wasn't exactly producing what they were expecting. 

But that wasn't the end. Cindy's mother started to spread the word to the community that the pumpkin sale might not happen as expected. 

Soon, deliveries of pumpkins began.

A batch of 30 pumpkins here, another batch of 30 pumpkins there--all from local farms and businesses hearing of the Meikle family's efforts. 

"We have 250 pumpkins at our house," chuckled Meikle. He said one of the deliveries of pumpkins even came with a card from one of the pumpkin patches asking if  they'd like some advice for growing more pumpkins next year.

This Saturday, the Meikles will hold their first pumpkin sale at their house at 1359 Indian Road in Lapeer, Michigan starting at 10 a.m. The proceeds will go toward the Shelby Fazio '13 Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund at GVSU.

This is just the start of the "Shine On For Shelby" movement. Terry says they are starting the first volunteerism day this year in Shelby's honor.

"She was the most kind and generous soul," said Terry. "She volunteered to numerous causes."

On Saturday, October 24, the Fazios are asking everyone to go out and volunteer in Shelby's honor. 

"Her passion was helping people and she loved animals," said Terry. 

After graduation in 2013, Shelby went to South Africa for 5 weeks to conduct an elephant impact survey. She then moved to Orlando, Florida to work for Disney. Her dream, Terry said, was to work at the Animal Kingdom as a wildlife biologist.

While pursuing her dreams in Florida, Shelby and her dog were brutally murdered by her roommate on October 26, 2014. 

Her family is now trying to turn her tragedy into a bigger movement of kindness and volunteerism.

"We'd like to have this good news spread as rapidly, all of the good that we are trying to have come from this," said Terry. 

The Shine On For Shelby Facebook page continues to garner support from the community.

One of the visitors wrote in part: "They have channeled their pain into making something spectacular in memory of their daughter & I can't think of a better way to honor their daughter! What giving souls they have! If we could all be like Shelby even for a day this world would be a better place to live in." 

If you'd like to join the Shine On For Shelby Facebook group, go here.
To donate to Shelby's memorial scholarship, go here.