More than 100 people met to celebrate the life of Lily Ann Dean on Wednesday afternoon at Apple’s Bar in Ketchum.
Co-hosted by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, the celebration served up free hamburgers and drinks as friends and family members of Dean, 15, came together to share memories and the positive impact that she left on the lives of everyone who knew her.
Cars lined every street with available parking around the Warm Springs day lodge as community members once again assembled to share the loss of Dean, who died following a rollover car accident on Sept. 21 on state Highway 75 north of Ketchum.
Several of Dean’s friends who were in attendance on Wednesday told a reporter with the Idaho Mountain Express that Dean was one of the happiest people they knew, who always wanted to share her light and her joy with those around her. A table set up in the corner of Apple’s displayed images of Dean on a motocross track, “being a badass,” her friends said. Individual cards with an image of Dean on one side and a “signature rhyme” on the back were available for people to take, and post cards with an image of a sunset were set out for people to share thoughts and memories of Dean with her family.
According to Rylee Brown, 15, Dean was the “mom of the group,” always looking out for her friends, and always sending encouraging messages to them. One friend who sat at a table inside Apple’s shared a saved Snapchat that Dean had sent to several of them just days before she passed away. The image was rainbow colored, with short reminders, “drink water, love yourself, smile.” That was Dean, her friends said, always lifting up those around her.
“She really cared about everyone around her,” Brown said.
Brown and Dean had been friends since middle school, hanging out nearly every day. He described her as a close friend and a mentor, “kind of a therapist to all of her friends, just a beautiful person to talk to, to know.”
A GoFundMe page created to support the Dean family has raised more than $15,000 since its creation on Sept. 24.
“Lily was fearless and full of life. She loved the adrenaline rush that came from riding Baldy or ripping up the dirt track in motocross proudly wearing #11,” the GoFundMe page stated.
For Brown, who said he couldn’t eat the first week after the fatal accident, the celebration of life was another step in the healing process, and connecting with her other friends and her family has helped him come to terms with the loss of a good friend. He said he has also stopped thinking of Lilly as being gone, and instead focuses on the fact that she was here, and he was able to know her and be close to her.
“I love Lily,” Brown said.
A memorial Saturday at the Limelight Hotel had about 750 people in attendance, with 500 people in chairs and about 250 standing at the back of the room as friends and relatives spoke of who Lily was, and the joy and light she brought to those that knew her.