OSHKOSH, Wis. — This Friday, marks one year since a terrible tragedy in Oshkosh. 4-year-old Arya Vaughn was hit and killed by a car. Now, her family is planning an event to give back to the community that supported them in their darkest days.
Arya's mother, Amber Vaughn, said her daughter's sunny disposition lit-up every room.
"Arya was a spunky little 4-year-old. She had the gift of life."
It was a precious life cut tragically short on May 3, 2018. Arya was practicing riding her bike near her home on the 1300 block of W. South Park Avenue when she rolled into the street and was accidentally hit by a vehicle.
"She was doing everything safely. She was wearing her helmet," explained Oshkosh Police Officer Kate Mann. "She became an angel that day, and our whole community mourned the loss of this special little girl."
Arya was a determined girl with two, deep dimples and bright blue eyes. She loved being a big sister to her brother Anakin. She enjoyed school, playing at the park, Disney princesses, elephants, telling jokes, and she commanded every stage with her love of singing and dancing. Her passing has left loved ones with a painful void.
"A big one. Just having our beautiful little girl, and not here anymore," explained Amber.
The Vaughns are struggling to adjust to life as a family of three.
"One day at a time. One minute at a time."
Donated meals, heartfelt cards, a benefit and a Go Fund Me that raised over $11,000 have all helped to give the family strength.
"We just can't thank everybody enough," said Amber. "There is good people in the community. The community is there for you."
Now, the Vaughns have a plan to give back.
"It came to my husband in a dream. He had a dream that there was a bike ride going on, and Arya was leading the pack on her bike."
Now, that dream is turning into reality. The Oshkosh Police Department is partnering with the Vaughns to put-on the first Arya Cares Family Bike Ride.
"Being able to work with her parents on this, it's been helping me to heal as well," Officer Mann explained.
The ride, walk and run will not only bring families together to honor Arya's memory, the money raised will be used to build playgrounds at parks and schools and to pay for field trips and other children's activities.
Amber said, "It gives me a little peace back into my heart that we're actually from something tragic happening, we're actually doing something good."
Amber hopes the event brings joy to the community just like little Arya brought to them.
"I know she's looking down on us, and she's got this big smile on her face, and she is proud."
The Arya Cares Family Bike Ride is being held on Saturday, May 18th from 9:00am to 2:00pm at Menominee Park's Kiwanis shelter. The first 50 kids will receive a free bike helmet. There will also be a bike safety course, bike inspections, emergency vehicles on display, a meet and greet with princesses, free packets of seeds to plant flowers in memory of Arya, raffle baskets, a meat raffle, concessions, music and a lot of prizes and giveaways. Click here to register.
The Vaughns hope to make the Arya Cares Family Bike Ride an annual event. All of the money raised will stay in the Oshkosh community.