Linda and Peter Kramer lost their 19-year-old daughter, Kaeli, in an accident nearly six years ago -- but on Saturday, they helped transform the tragedy into a "living tribute" -- a fundraiser for horses.
About 80 people donated $20 each for the second annual Help a Horse Day 5K walk at the Wildlife and Ecology Center in Holtsville, with proceeds benefiting the Kaeli Kramer Foundation's horses, which are kept at a sanctuary in Goshen, said Kaeli's mom, Linda Kramer.
Kaeli Kramer was struck and killed by a garbage truck on May 26, 2009, on the Farmingdale State College campus where she was attending the first day of summer classes. She was studying to become an equine veterinarian, her mother said.
Linda Kramer and her husband, Peter, formed the nonprofit in June 2009 to raise awareness of the compassionate treatment of animals, a cause dear to their only child.
"Kaeli loved horses; she loved all animals," said Linda Kramer of West Hills and Goshen. "We feel like this is a living tribute to Kaeli."
Phillip Scott, 26, of Bay Shore, came with his mom, Tywana Williams, 47, to honor the friend he met during ninth-grade orientation at The Knox School in St. James.
"To be here is saying that 'you're not forgotten, but we know you're in a better place,' " Scott said of Kaeli. "We know her spirit is in the animals; it's like visiting her directly. It's what she loved; it's what she breathed."
Two former New York City carriage mustangs, Callie and Valor -- purchased by the Kramers for $20 three months after Kaeli's death to save them from slaughter -- were at the event for dozens of children to see and learn about.
"I think she would be so pleased," Linda Kramer said of her daughter. "It's obviously hard, but I feel that you can take your sorrow and your grief and you can become bitter, or you can kind of give up, or you can try and transform that and make it into something positive."