Park City moms turn tragedy into opportunity

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PARK CITY -- A devastating blow to a tight knit Utah community: five recent graduates of Park City High School died in less than a year. Now friends and family are working on building a memorial in South America.

They're known as the Park City 5: Connie Blount and Matt Knoop were killed by drunk drivers; Chris Yeates fell while hiking; Erica Knell died in a car accident; and Mike Pennels died mysteriously in his sleep.

It all happened within seven months, leaving five grieving families behind. "We all share the same thing. We're in the club nobody wants to be in," said Matt Knoop's mother, Kaye.

As they mourned the loss of the children -- talented athletes, scholars and artists -- the mothers of the five grew close.

"We decided we wanted to do something good for our kids," said Ellen Knell, Erica Knell's mother.

The five students all loved their time at Park City High, and in their memory their mothers want to give students in another country the same opportunity. "We thought it would be a good idea to build a school," Ellen said.

They picked Riobamaba, Ecuador, for the school. It's a town at an altitude of 14,000 feet where kids have few educational opportunities.

"To know their memory is creating a school and a learning opportunity for someone else is incredible," said Kelley Yeates, Chris Yeates' mother.

On Saturday, they're holding a 5K race to raise money for the school. There will also be a golf tournament on June 8, and in July a group of 46, including the mothers and five scholarship recipients, will travel to Ecuador. They'll work side by side with the locals to build the school.

"It will mean our kids are not forgotten," Kaye said.

To sign up for either fundraising event and to read more about the Park City 5, CLICK HERE.



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