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Friends and family gather to dedicate Brooke Baures Memorial Garden

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Winona, MN (WXOW) -

It has been two and a half years since 21-year-old Brooke Baures died in a tragic work accident.

"Let us remember the big Brookie hugs, her sweet smile, and how she lived her life to the fullest," said Brooke's mother, Kerrie Baures.

On Sunday morning, friends and family gathered at Winona State University for the dedication of the Brooke Baures Memorial Garden.

"Just to have it finished and be able to finalize it helps us continue to be able to move forward," said Kerrie Baures.

The Baures' have been planning the garden for more than two years.

"It's been a really special process," said Robert Christiano, Director of Development at Winona State University. "It's been incredible to work with the family on, and it's been a really meaningful space at Winona University."

The garden is a place for students to sit and reflect.

"They might take a second look at their friend or whoever is sitting next to them and say, 'Look, some young girl lost her life here in our stage of development, in our youthfulness. Guess what. Let's not take life for granted,'" said Beckie Rolbiecki, Brooke's gymnastics coach at Winona State University.

Students can also visit the garden to remember Brooke's legacy.

"Even the people that have never met Brooke or knew her for a short time have told us how she was so caring and how she made them feel important, cared about how they were doing, and proud of who she was," Kerrie Baures said.

The dedication was a tribute to a life gone too soon.

"There's always so much left we want to say. We long to turn back the time to tell them everything that's in our hearts," Kerrie Baures said.

Those who knew Brooke said they can feel her presence in the garden, knowing that she will never really be gone.

"We can walk through this garden, and we can be at peace," Rolbiecki said. "And, we can know that in our hearts and our souls, she's still with us."

The Baures' choose to remember Brooke like a butterfly, a symbol of life, free from Earth and smiling down from heaven. The dedication included a butterfly release into the garden.

The Baures' said Sunday morning's dedication honored their daughter by bringing everyone together, something Brooke did throughout her life.

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