SOUTH JORDAN — This year, Jan. 15 took on a new significance for survivors of the corporate plane crash that killed eight men outside Malad, Idaho, in 1996.
This year, on what has largely been a solemn anniversary, the mood was one of light and hope Saturday as The Bradley Center for Grieving Children and Families opened its doors to the public.
"He loved a good party, especially if he had a starring role," said the center's executive director Carrie Moore, wife of Bradley Moore, for whom the center is named. He was one of the eight men who perished in the plane crash 15 years ago.
"I'm sure, somewhere in this room, he's here," Carrie Moore said.
The center will offer faith-based, age-matched peer group support for grieving children with trained volunteer facilitators and staff at the American Heritage School at 11100 S. Redwood Road. Moore said the facility will provide a safe place for children and families trying to cope with loss, using their religious faith as a resource.
When the plane crash occurred many of the victims were the fathers of young children. There were very limited options to seek help for her three children, Moore said, noting that there was a lengthy waiting list and no program that "incorporated God into the discussion."
So she and her children hung tight to the most important constants in their lives, their faith and family.
"Without either of those elements, I don't know where we'd be."
Janice Taylor, whose husband, Craig, also died in the crash, said it was good to mark the anniversary of the event in a positive manner. "Usually, the 15th (of January) you wake up and it's a stark reminder."
Taylor's children were 5, 7 and 14 years old when their father died. Her youngest son turned 6 two days after the crash.
For children, understanding death and the grieving process can be confounding. "Even for my older daughter, there were a lot of questions," Taylor said.
Moore said her 7-year-old daughter waited on the stairs of her home every night waiting for her father to come home following the crash.
Without proper supports, grieving children are at risk of developing depression, anxiety, a drop in school performance, withdrawal, lowered self esteem, panic disorders and self destructive behaviors such as substance abuse or suicidal ideation.
Moore said one in seven children in the United States will experience the death of a parent or sibling before age 20. That would mean roughly 70,000 children in Salt Lake and Utah counties alone.
"Chances are you know someone who has had that experience," she said.
Among the supporters of the center kickoff was Greg Miller, chief executive officer of the Utah Jazz. Miller's family recently experienced the death of his wife's mother, Sherry Black, who was fatally stabbed at her place of business, B&W Billiards and Books.
"The healing depends on how much we invite God into our healing process," Miller said.
Moore said training of volunteers will be conducted in February and programs should start no later than March 1.