CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – The families of two Christiansburg teenagers who tragically lost their lives just months apart honored the girls by spreading messages of hope and raising awareness for suicide prevention.
Brianna Hurst and Ashyln Poole, both 16, died last year. Brianna took her own life in April. Ashlyn was killed in a car crash in July.
After their deaths, their families turned their pain into something positive by starting the Acts4Ash and Living4Bri movements. The goal is to carry on the girls' memories by paying forward acts of kindness and spreading awareness for suicide prevention.
Thursday, the groups teamed up and invited everyone at the Christiansburg Fourth of July Celebration to write words of hope on rocks, including "Be kind," "Never doubt you are loved" and "You are not alone."
They plan to place the rocks around town for everyone to see.
"We need to talk about mental illness. We need to make people more aware," said Tracey Linkous, Brianna's mom.
The girls were best friends growing up, so Linkous and Melissa Poole, Ashlyn's mom, leaned on each other for support after their daughters died.
"It's not something I ever thought I would go through and it's not something I ever wish anyone else to go through," Melissa Poole said.
"I knew exactly what she was feeling and so it was really hard," said Linkous.
Ashlyn would always leave uplifting notes for friends, which is why her mom said this was a perfect project for Acts4Ash.
The mothers agreed that a simple message can bring a smile to someone's face and a little bit of hope to someone's day.
"I hope and I think that they're up above watching down and just smiling and knowing that we're here for each other," Melissa Poole said. "And that we are trying to continue to live for Bri and continue to try to spread kindness for Ashlyn."