Blair Shanahan Lane loved life. She loved children. And she loved her family.
Last Fourth of July, she was cavorting across a lawn to music and enjoying fireworks with her family, friends and other church members in a quiet neighborhood east of the Truman Sports Complex.
Across the lake from the relative's home was a group of men at the Whispering Lakes apartment complex. One of them was Aaron Sullivan. A part-time employee at the apartment complex, Sullivan had a gun. And he and his friends celebrated the Fourth by firing stray bullets into the air.
One of those bullets raced across the lake and struck Blair in the neck. She was rushed to the hospital but couldn't be saved. She was 11 years old.
"Blair was shot (while) just playing and having a good time," her mother, Michele Shanahan DeMoss, said. "She is forever gone just because of stupidity."
Sullivan was sentenced to three years in prison because it was his weapon. The other men with him faced no charges because prosecutors couldn't prove who fired the fatal shot.
State Rep. Mike Talboy, the Democratic leader in the Missouri House, sponsored a bill to make it a felony to discharge a firearm inside city limits. His measure didn't pass.
But Blair's mother isn't giving up. She still hopes to persuade the Missouri General Assembly to pass "Blair's law."
She also hopes Blair's death will remind people the dangers of firing stray bullets on holidays and prevent other tragedies.
She's also working on Blair's Foster Socks program, begun by the girl because she saw foster children in her own home without basic clothes, and she wanted to help others.
DeMoss said the past year has been incredibly tough.
"I just miss Blair," she said. "It's not easy. My life in a split second changed forever. I was Blair's mom every day."
But she draws strength from Blair herself by remembering her spirit and seeking changes in her name.
"Sometimes she's right there next to me," DeMoss said. "She's my reason to still get out of bed."
To read more about Blair's Foster Socks, click here.
To read previous coverage, click here.
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