Parents establish donation website to honor daughter
By Dona S. Dreeland
Published: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 2:09 p.m.
Denise and Michael Munson of McCandless hope to honor their daughter's memory by raising money for causes related to her passions, such as nature, organic farming and the arts.
Emma Munson, 19, a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth College, died Oct. 6 after an accidental fall at a house party on South Morris Street in Richmond, Va., police said.
“She was super amazing, a special soul,” her mother said. “She was too big, too special to be here. This was too small a place for her.”
The 2013 North Allegheny Senior High School graduate was into art, photography, singing and acting.
She even tie-dyed her sheets for college.
“She wanted to do everything. She had all these dreams,” including working on a farm during summer breaks and hiking the Appalachian Trail with her family, Denise Munson said.
The family has created a website — www.emmamunsonmemorial.com — to collect donations to honor her memory. The website indicates a plan for future fundraisers.
The family has not yet determined which organizations will receive the donated money, Denise said.
“I live by the day and see where it takes me,” Munson, then a senior at North Allegheny Senior High School, said in an interview for the North Journal after she won a national gold medal in the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program for her acrylic painting “The Room.”
North Allegheny art teacher Frances Hawbaker had encouraged Emma to enter the competition.
“She was so talented and always ready to try new things,” Hawbaker said.
She said she expected Munson to do great things and told her to keep in touch.
The Munsons got a call from the emergency room at the college's medical center at 12:30 a.m. Oct. 6. After making arrangements for their three other children, they began a six-hour drive.
When the emergency room staff kept calling to see how close to Richmond they were, the couple knew something was seriously wrong. The Munsons learned that Emma had fractured her skull and neck, but they took great comfort that her boyfriend was with her.
The rides to Richmond and back to Pittsburgh were difficult. But at home in her daughter's bedroom with its hand-painted mural, there was a peace.
“Every time I see a sunrise or sunset, it'll be her,” Denise said. “How blessed I was to be her mother. God needed her to do something more.”
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353.
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