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Out of Taconic tragedy, Floral Park family offers help for kids

Photos and letters are on display at the

Photos and letters are on display at the 5K family run fundraiser started by Jackie and Warren Hance, who operate the Hance Family Foundation after their children, Emma, Alyson, and Katie, were killed in a car crash on July 26, 2009, at the Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

Kasey Rose Hance will always carry her sisters with her.

The Floral Park girl was born in October 2011, more than two years after a wrong-way car crash in Westchester claimed the lives of Emma, 8, Alyson, 7, and Katie, 5.

In naming Kasey, Jackie and Warren Hance used the first initial of each of their lost daughters.

"I made up a song," Jackie said Saturday at an annual fundraiser for the Hance Family Foundation in Floral Park. " 'K' is for Katie, 'A' is Alyson, 'S' is for sisters, 'E' is for Emma and 'Y' is for you."

Through the foundation, the grieving parents found a new purpose: helping girls and young women to love themselves.

Since 2009, their "Beautiful Me" workshops have provided inspiration for an estimated 15,000 girls around the country.

Jackie, 44, who struggled with self-esteem as a child, said the group's message mirrors lessons she and Warren, 47, tried to teach their children. "Fat" and "ugly" were among the derogatory words banished from the family's vocabulary.

Suzanne Huber, 46, of Floral Park, whose daughter Jacqueline, 11, participates in the after-school program, said it helps girls facing intense peer pressure "think about what's important."

Since the accident, the Hances have dealt with their anguish in different ways.

The girls died July 26, 2009, on the Taconic State Parkway when their aunt, Diane Schuler, 36, of West Babylon, who police said was drunk and high, drove the wrong way home from a camping trip.

Schuler, her 2-year-old daughter Erin, and three Yonkers men in the SUV she hit also died. Schuler's son, Brian, then 5, was the sole survivor.

Jackie, who wrote a book about the tragedy titled "I'll See You Again," said she thought about taking her own life after the crash.

Warren said he'd sometimes fall into despair, thinking about the sudden void in his life. But he's learned to focus on the joys in his life.

"Everything has always got a tinge of sadness, but it's where you put that, how you play it, when you allow that to come in," he said.

Saturday at a 5-kilometer fundraising race, Warren said he was thinking of Kasey and "all these people here that are going out and validating what we do every single day."

Jackie said running, relying on her faith and raising Kasey have helped her cope.

"When you have someone you have to take care of," she said, "there's no option except to function and be OK."


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