BOULDER - The story of Aaron Tuneberg is one that touches everyone who hears it. Tuneberg was 30-years-old, mentally disabled and Boulder police say beaten to death by two teens.
After his murder, his mother Gale Boonstra made a promise- make Aaron's storyhave an impact on the lives of other people. And in just one year, she has.
"At the time that I set up the memorial fund, I thought if I could help one person like Aaron do something to change their life, it would be worthwhile," Boonstra said. "It would help with the mourning and the grief, and we've accomplished that now through the bike repair program. It's very heartwarming to me."
Aaron loved bikes. That's why Boonstra chose this particular way to make a difference.
"Our target is not just young adults with autism, but all young adults with all ranges of disability," said Dennis Rastatter, Director of Special Education, Transitions, at Boulder Valley Schools. "It is really about finding an appropriate young adult who can access this type of work and be successful in this type of work.
Since January, two people have graduated, two more are in the program now and one will have a paid internship this summer.
"That might seem like a small number but for these kids it's perfect, because they get really hands on experience," Boonstra said.
Boonstra wants to grow her effort, making it available to more people.
If in just one year she's been able put a few people through training, imagine what she can do in five.
"I mourn my son every day," Boonstra said. "But the idea that in his memory people we know and people we don't know have contributed money in the hope of making a difference for people who struggle with his life challenges and the fact that in the time we've been able to with the help of many people, accomplish something, it just makes me proud of my son and his inspiration."
If you would like to donate to help Boonstra with her mission, you can do so by logging onhttp://www.commfound.org/. Select "Donate Now" and then designate Aaron's Fund.
If you want to reach out to Boonstra, firstname.lastname@example.org.
c/o the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County
1123 Spruce Street
Boulder, CO 80302