In March of 2012, 20-year-old Sara R. Hougom was shot and killed during a home invasion and robbery. On Thursday August 17th, she would have turned 26 years old. In dealing with such a tragic loss, surviving family members have found a way to bring positivity to others in the surrounding community and that positivity is growing.
"It feels very good," said Sara's mother Sherry. "Very uplifting."
It was a day for community, fun and games and to spread a positive uplifting message. That's how the 3rd annual Day at the Lake honored Sara's memory.
"She just had a zest for life," Sherry said. "She always brought out the best in others and that really what this day is about."
The Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, 5 area police agencies and even some K-9 units spent their day at Lake Neshonoc trying to show that coming together is the best way to prevent tragedy in the future.
"We're uniting with those organizations because our missions align," Sherry said. "That's what makes our event so uplifting and positive."
"Even though something bad can happen, us as a community we can rally behind that," said Dan Ulrich, an officer with La Crosse PD. "There are better ways to handle stuff and we can make the best out of bad situations and try to leave things better than we found them."
It's all part of what Sherry calls "Living Sara Style"... doing everything you can to bring out the best in others.
"She would love this," said Sherry. "She would truly love this, having all the smiles and the laughter."
Over 300 people attended the Day at the Lake. Kids had the chance to spend time fishing with members of the police and sheriff's department. There were 14 boat operators, and all life jackets and fishing poles were provided by the Wisconsin DNR.