CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) - The memory of a 5-year-old girl, murdered last year in Niagara Falls, lives on. Family and friends gathered to dedicate a playground in honor of Isabella "Bella" Tennant, Tuesday evening.
For Bella's family, it's another step in the healing process. They are taking something terrible that happened to them, and making something good come out of it.
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A new playground in Cheektowaga's Stiglmeier Park is a memorial to Bella, although not the kind you visit to feel sad.Tennant family spokesman Dave Pietrowski said, "When something terrible like this happens, you're all wondering, what can you do? And so we wanted to do something that would be kind of fun, in her memory, because she was a fun little girl, always smiling and laughing."
Bella's loved ones found inspiration in a photograph.
"That was an easy decision, when we saw the picture, and she was on the slide in the park. That was her passion," Pietrowski said.
Bella's playground is designed especially for children aged 5 and younger - children Bella's age. Her family raised every penny of the cost. They're grateful for the generosity of everyone who donated.
Isabella's aunt, Deb Tennant, said, "You have no idea; it means the world to me and my entire family. And please, make sure you have some ice cream, 'cause Isabella is watching and I know she can see us."
There will be more difficult days ahead for Bella's family, when John Freeman and Tyler Best go on trial in August. Freeman is accused of killing Bella, and Best is accused of helping hide the girl's body in a trash can.
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But they're proud of the special place everyone now has, to remember her.
Pietrowski said, "I don't think you ever, ever, ever get over the death of a child. But it is somewhat therapeutic. It's hard not to be happy when you look behind you and you see these kids jumping off the swing, when they're not supposed to be."
Cheektowaga Town Councilman James Rogowski said, "Her legacy and her memory will live in this park and this playground, so that my children and other children may use the playground and enjoy themselves, just as Isabella would have done."
Rogowski says the town has "great respect" for what Bella's family has done to beautify the park.
Pietrowski also thanked the town, which he says, "has been wonderful."
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