PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Family members say she was taken from them far too soon.

Eight years ago, Shawnte Betts and her boyfriend were kidnapped and murdered. Now, her family is honoring her life by helping others.

It may have looked like an end of the summer picnic at West Park on the North Side Sunday afternoon, but the gathering actually marked the official kickoff of The Dreaming Wings Foundation.

It’s an organization dedicated to the memory of 17-year-old Shawnte Betts, a graduate of Oliver High School who was abducted and murdered eight years ago, along with a companion, James Jones.

“Shawnte was outgoing; Shawnte was full of life, as this party is – full of life,” said Tiffany Smith, Betts’ mother. “Shawnte was sunshine; Shawnte brought happiness to everybody’s life that she touched.”

Betts was a young girl with big dreams of going to college and her family had high hopes for her. So the newly-formed foundation is designed to help other women reach similar goals.

“It is for young women who want to go to college and we are providing them money for books and Shawnte was on her way to college and so that is why we want to continue that,” said Kyersten Johnston, the event coordinator. “She was on her way, she was making her steps.”

The family designated Sunday Tae Day in her memory and released 24 butterflies, a memory her family hopes will live on forever in the form of her foundation.

“She would think this is great,” said Smith.

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