By Jamie Leary
BENNETT, Colo. (CBS4)– It’s been nearly one year since the death of Berthoud teen Ashley Doolittle, and those who loved her are making sure her memory lives on.
The promising young woman was getting ready to enter her freshman year at CSU when she was shot and killed. Since, the community has rallied around Ashely’s family and her foundation.
Ashley’s parents started The Ashley Doolittle Foundation in the months following her death. The mission of which is to build awareness and prevent teenage dating violence. The kind of violence that Ashley’s parents say took her life.
In the past year, the foundation has taken on a life of its own.
“It went from a horse show to a gala to help pay for the horse show and now, a two-day rodeo,” said Brian Sprague, manager of the Judges Choice Training Center in Bennett.
Sprague is one of many in the ranching community who jumped into action when Ashley was killed.
“It was the most surreal thing I had ever experienced in my life,” said Sprague.
He remembers the moment he heard what happened to Ashley. He was at a horse show.
“Everybody was in a good mood, the announcement came over the radio and it was just everybody went quiet.” said Sprague. “The horse community truly is a horse community. It’s such a small world for those of us who own horses here in Colorado.”
He didn’t know Ashley at the time but he knew something had to be done to prevent it from ever happening again.
It only took a month and Sprague managed to put together a horse show benefit. This year, he signed the check for a full-blown rodeo.
“I was like I have no idea how I’m going to pay for this but we’re going to do it so okay here we go…”
Ashley’s parents believe she would have shied away from all the attention but also know how important it is to put her story front and center.
“It’s for all those folks that we don’t want to end up like Ashley. To try and use this money to create a difference in a positive sense… to let them know that there’s another way out,” said Jeff Doolittle, Ashley’s father.
As for Sprague, he plans to make the rodeo even bigger next year with an entire 5-day event dedicated to the Ashley Doolittle Foundation. He says the more stories he hears about what a giving young woman Ashley was, the more he wants to do for the foundation.
“It’s amazing and I am sad for never having met her but I feel like I know her now through this whole process.”
Her father says it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. The pain is still very fresh but he is proud of the legacy Ashley is leaving behind through it.
“I am glad people will remember her for this. Something positive. Not just the way she died,” said Jeff Doolittle.
Ashley’s parents say that Ashley often said, “Horses are my life.”
The mission of her foundation is to give back to her community. Proceeds from the rodeo go right back to her foundation.
The rodeo is June 10 & 11 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. Use the promo code bigcountry and get $10 off your ticket.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015. She is currently a reporter for CBS4 This Morning, which means she is always on the go, covering a wide variety of breaking local news and important local events. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.