ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Dressed in different shades of light blue, hundreds gathered for a vigil Monday evening in the Durbin Crossing neighborhood for Tristyn Bailey, who was murdered exactly one year ago.
Friends, neighbors and teammates met to remember the 13-year-old, who was killed on Mother’s Day in 2021. Deputies have arrested her schoolmate and charged him with murder.
Wearing aqua, teal and turquoise, some of her cheer teammates wore shirts that read: “We cheer for Tristyn.”
Bailey’s father, Forrest, spoke about the day his family’s life changed forever. He said his daughters were supposed to prepare their mother a special Mother’s Day breakfast.
“Sophia came down and got things ready as she normally would,” he said. “Shortly after that, our day was shattered.”
Bailey’s father thanked the community for coming out to search for his daughter that day. “So many of you abandoned your Mother’s Day plans,” he said.
And now, a year later, the family and the community still grieve the loss of a smile so contagious.
“Together, and with love, we can get through and be stronger,” he said.
Bailey’s mother, Stacy, also spoke.
“I see a lot of her friends out here and she cared so much about each and every one of you,” she said. “She touched a lot of lives.”
RELATED: 1 year later: Tristyn Bailey’s family reflects on her memory, impact
Prior to the vigil, the community had already begun remembering Bailey -- placing aqua ribbons and bows at the amenities center. Aqua colored ribbons can also been seen in other areas, including throughout the Aberdeen neighborhood.
Her family members, which call themselves the Bailey 7, are calling for acts of love and kindness from the community.
Ahead of the one year mark, Bailey’s family released a statement:
As a family, we continue to be devastated and overcome with grief at the loss of Tristyn. With time we are learning to deal with carrying this loss forward. We draw our greatest strength from our love of Tristyn and seek to honor her memory in line with her spirit. Our Saint Johns and Jacksonville community, her teammates and classmates are simply incredible in the acts of kindness and encouragement for one another. It is in the day-to-day memories and expressions of love that we best carry Tristyn forward.
We are also working on many lasting ways in which Tristyn’s legacy will support the good. In the next year we look forward to formally announcing many of these efforts. Presently we are working to align with a youth mental health program, a community focused gym that will also support defense classes and a scholarship program. Tristyn’s dedication as a teammate continues to be honored. Saint Johns Middle School Cheer Association, Infinity Allstars Cheerleading, Zone Cheer All-Stars and the Episcopal Eagles Women’s Lacrosse are each recognizing someone within their respective program with a Tristyn Bailey award.
We are deeply appreciative of the many organizations and businesses that have had events to remember Tristyn. From the Aberdeen 5K, Kendra Scott event, POA homecoming game, Outlaws play-off game, Creekside/Episcopal Women’s Lacrosse game, POA Spring concert, to the businesses and individuals that show their teal and aqua in support and spread kindness each day, we’re immensely thankful. Going beyond our local community, we have seen how Tristyn’s spirit, memory, and kindness has grown around the world, from countless aqua bows tied up in her memory to painted rocks carried and hidden around the world to share her legacy.
As we take today to reflect upon Tristyn’s memory and the light her passing has inspired, we encourage everyone to find a moment each day to feed the good wolf. Through acts of kindness and love as a community we can drive out evil together.
With Love Always, The Bailey 7
The Bailey family said many memorial projects are in the works -- including a scholarship program, working with a youth mental health center, and a community gym that supports self-defense.
Formal plans will be announced at a later date.