Murrysville girl's spirit lives on through fundraiser to benefit park

Renatta Signorini
| Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Not many 12-year-olds leave behind a signature pose.

With her head tilted and arms extended in the air, Holly Alm's favorite stance is immortalized in pictures lining the walls of her parents' Murrysville home.

“She was quite an entertainer,” said Holly's mother, Diane Alm.

It's that spirit and Holly's love of dogs that her friends are preserving through an annual pancake breakfast to benefit Murrysville's dog park. Holly's friends meet regularly at her parents' house to plan the event and share stories.

“It's helped with our healing,” Diane Alm said. “We always felt close to these girls. We love that they still want to come here.”

Holly Alm, 12, died in an accident along Harrison City Road in May 2011 when the brakes failed on the sport utility vehicle her mother was driving, police said. Holly was a sixth-grader at Franklin Regional Middle School.

The second annual Hotcakes for Holly will be held Saturday — on what would have been Holly's 14th birthday — at Laird Hall of First Presbyterian Church in Murrysville.

The idea developed from eighth-grader Anna Stephens' interest in celebrating her friend's life.

“We wanted to honor Holly because Holly just touched so many people in so many ways,” said Kim Stephens, Anna's mother. “We wanted to find a way to come together annually to celebrate her life.”

Fundraising efforts began last year with a community sale of holly bushes. Part of the proceeds went toward the first free Hotcakes for Holly. As a result of donations, a set of three hoops for dogs to jump through and two dogwood trees have been installed at the dog park in Murrysville Community Park.

The group will decide what to purchase next for the park based on the amount raised at Saturday's event.

Eighth-grader Maddy Campbell said Holly's love for dogs led the group to focus on the dog park.

“We want to get more equipment for the dogs to play on,” Maddy said.

Kim Stephens hopes that Holly's friends will one day be able to take their children to the dog park and share memories of their friend.

Preparing for the event has been “a very healthy healing process” for the girls and their parents, Kim Stephens said. “I feel like Holly's my friend, too.”

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or

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