Two years later, remembering Rio Allred

NOW: Two years later, remembering Rio Allred

ELKHART, Ind.-- Thursday, March 14, marked two years since the tragic death of an Elkhart 12-year-old, Rio Allred. She took her own life after facing bullying at school.

For her father, Aaron Ball, the anniversary is no more difficult than any other day.

"Every day is always hard," he said. "It doesn't matter that this is the day of the anniversary. There are little things that get brought up throughout our weeks and our months and our years that you notice something. You notice that empty seat. Or you notice when we're doing something that she should be part of, but she's not."

When asked what he misses most about his daughter, Ball replied, "With me and her, there was a lot of back and forth. She didn't necessarily like my dad jokes in the beginning, but by the end, she was reading a book of dad jokes and sharing them back and forth. Her laugh, her creativity. She was a very animated speaker, a very animated talker and she was driven to get her point across, even if you didn't agree with it."

Rio had alopecia, an auto-immune disease that caused her hair to fall out. The little girl sported a bald head, and her parents say she faced repeated bullying at school.

Now, it's Ball's mission to raise awareness of the bullying in Elkhart Community Schools and beyond, and to provide mental health resources. He started the organization "Rio's Rainbow".

Thursday night, Rio's Rainbow partnered with the Parent Coalition for Child Safety and Well-being to host a "Night of Remembrance and Truth-telling."

The night featured several speakers, offering sobering speeches about the need for greater mental health resources.

"We need all parents to understand that times have changed," Ball said, "It's not the same as what it was when we grew up, and these kids need more than what they did before, and it's our job to provide them with that 'more.'"

They are now advocating that the State of Indiana enact a Child State of Emergency.

Find their petition here.

Find their community agreement here

Share this article: