THE mother of car crash victim Kimberly O'Connor is marking "her first birthday away from home" with an appeal to prevent further road tragedies.
Jennifer Haynes from Harbour View road said she will be visiting the grave of her daughter today on what would have been her 17th birthday.
The bitter-sweet milestone comes seven months after Kimberly's death in a car crash near their home on Harbour View Road.
Jennifer and her family fought a courageous battle in the months that followed campaigning for traffic calming measures in the area.
Community and family members are set to come together this evening - while adhering to social distancing guidelines - for a spectacular display in the teenager's memory.
The skies will be lit up with pink lanterns and balloons as a nod to Kimberly's love of astrology. Terence MacSwiney Community College, where Kimberly attended, will also celebrate the teenager's life by sporting vibrant colours today. Jennifer said she wanted to make Kimberly's "first birthday away from home" as special as possible.
She also reiterated the importance of traffic calming measures and said that saving a life would be the best birthday present in the world to Kimberly.
"I'm going to a grave for Kimberly's birthday," Jennifer said. "We hope that her story will get the message out there. Kimberly was someone who was always thinking of others so saving a life would have meant the world to her. I still feel the fear and the panic and worry that another family member might end up in a car crash that severe. If I didn't have this to organise and everyone's support I would have been gone long ago. It helps that I believe in an afterlife. I know that when I die Kimberly will be waiting for me."
The Knocknaheeny woman confessed that the pain is often overwhelming.
"It's seven months since it happened. I still breakdown and cry unexpectedly. Even though Kimberly is in Heaven I still want to do her proud."
Jennifer has made plans to have her daughter's name displayed in lights to mark the commemoration event.
"Kimberly did a lot of good things in her life that made me proud as a mother. She always wanted to make it and that's why it will be so special to see her name in lights. We're doing everything in our power to keep her memory alive.
Jennifer recalled how excited Kimberly had been about turning 17.
"Even when I reminded Kimberly that 18 was "the big one" she said she was most looking forward to turning 17. I think she felt there was something very grown-up about it. If she was still with us today Kimberly would have been getting ready to have dinner with her friends. She had so many friends who went all out when it came to celebrating each other's birthdays.
Jennifer said she is grateful that Kimberly led a full and happy life.
"In some ways I am lucky that Kimberly was a very happy child who never struggled with anything like depression or bullying. The evening she left the house she went out happy.
"She was the sort of child who was talented and picked for everything in school. She was always centre stage and that's why we want to do everything we can to make sure she is remembered."