$10,000 donated to Kayla's Kids

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Updated: 11/28/2012 9:18 am Published: 11/27/2012 11:18 am

Tuesday night is six months since a young girl who had been a high school graduate for one day was killed in a drive-by shooting.

Police would soon learn that Kayla Ferrante’s murder was a case of mistaken identity.

The $10,000 raised for the reward to catch the killer is now going to help students that Kayla mentored at Memorial High School.

"The focus is on the crime. Catch bad guy, put bad guy in jail, end of story. But victims live on. The families have to make peace with this. How do you do that?" said Crime Commission Executive Director Carol Bush.

The Crime Commission is a non-profit organization that works with Tulsa Police on the Crime Stopper program.

Designated reward funds are voted on at monthly Crime Commission board meetings and some money was available for this crime spree.  However, in this case the board decided to dedicate the funds to help Kayla’s mission.

"To watch it grow into something like this it was the right thing to do," said Bush.

A memory wall dedicated to Kayla Ferrante hangs in the training classroom for special students. Pictures of Kayla and newspaper clippings from her murder hang on the wall. Their teacher said it helps the special education students at Memorial High School remember their peer tutor.

"When I first met Kayla she was really awesome and funny," said Memorial High School special education student, Shelby.

Another special education student who also peer tutors said Kayla made an impact on her life.

"She was an awesome person she helped anyone who was in need of help, those with special needs," said Teryn.

17-year-old Anthony Meola said his favorite part of class is having the tutors.  

During Kayla’s senior year as a peer tutor at Memorial High School, Kayla's motivation was contagious.

"When she got a vision and when she stuck her mind to something she was going to get it," said Janet Parker.

She is the special education teacher at Memorial High School. Parker explained a moment when Kayla and her friend, who motivated her to tutor the students, were coaxing a student who didn’t like to roll himself in a wheelchair.

"That became their mission in PE to get him up on his walker and to walk him across the gym or across the track," said Parker.

Kayla’s mother said in just one year tutoring the students, Kayla wanted to dedicate her career to helping those students.

"I saw her grow and transform into this beautiful person with a special heart for these kids," said Roxanne Thornton. "That was her gift; to see beyond the differences and to find the common grounds. She treated them as though they were normal in any other way."

After raising $10,000 through a garage sale and car show to capture the killer, in July, the suspect, Edwin Daniels, 24, was arrested on unrelated crimes.

However, the family wanted to do something more than just collect money for an arrest and the Crime Commission agreed if the money was not used to pay a tipster it would be used for special needs students at Memorial High School.

"This is one good that has come from this horrible nightmare that we have been living for the past six months," said Thornton.

"We love the people that help us,” said Teryn.

Her teacher said it’s been a dream to expand job skills for special education.

The reward money will help build a greenhouse and display to showcase monthly success stories between peer tutors and students.

"What is really special is that so much good can come from such an evil, evil, act," said Parker.

Each year students earn their way to compete in the Special Olympics and now with a greenhouse it can help them get there on their own.

"I would like for the kids to know what it feels like to pay their own way to make money off of something with their own hands," said Parker.

Anthony’s mother said she is proud of her son and his classmates.

"It gives them the benefit of being recognized for what they are doing. It allows them to be proud of something," said Kelli Cobb.

The students and Kayla's family said Kayla would be proud too.

"I just really miss Kayla," said Shelby.

Five thousand dollars was raised through Kayla's memorial fund which is also going to Kayla's Kids.

Two months after Kayla’s death, Daniels was charged with Kayla’s murder.

He was arrested in unrelated crimes that led investigators to Kayla’s homicide.

Court records show he is scheduled to be in court on December 3rd.

He also faces more than 30 charges in a home invasion.

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