Lauren Spence loved to sing and dance.
The 16-year-old from Saskatoon was a member of her high school choir and danced for more than a decade.
At age six, Lauren started taking lessons at the same Highland dance school her mother taught at.
“Then she wanted to try Irish (dance) because my husband’s family is Irish. Tried it, loved it – quit Highland dance that next day,” Raycine Spence laughed.
On June 9, 2017, Lauren died in a two-vehicle crash on Highway 21, about an hour northeast of Calgary.
She was headed to the city for an Irish dance competition with her mother and grandmother, both of whom suffered serious injuries.
The driver of the other vehicle was also injured and taken to hospital.
At the time, police reported conditions were poor in the area due to heavy hail and rainfall.
In the year since, Spence said there’s been an outpouring of support. Last weekend, she attended the competition they missed last year, to hand out an award in her daughter’s name.
“It was tough at times but really good; something I really needed,” she said, adding the organizers allowed her time to speak and give thanks to the dance community.
“Let people know how much Lauren loved Irish (dance), and how much we appreciated everything they’ve done and the donations they’ve made.”
Spence said after the crash, an Irish dance school in Saskatoon set up a Go Fund Me page to help with medical fees.
“Instead, we chose to use the money toward things that Lauren loved,” she said.
“Whatever we think Lauren would like, we’re trying to help them.”
Over the last year, the family has donated in Lauren’s name to Highland and Irish dance programs.
Spence’s family also worked with the Saskatoon Community Foundation to create a memorial scholarship recognizing a student at Marion M. Graham Collegiate, Lauren’s high school, who takes part in the choir.
“Doesn’t have to be the best singer, but should be helpful and just love to be there,” Spence said, adding Lauren was a member of the choir there for two years.
“She loved it. The teacher nicknamed her the ‘RoboCop’ because she helped with all the robes and making sure they were all returned, they were folded nicely or hung up.”
Spence handed out the first memorial scholarship on May 29. The recipient, one of Lauren’s close friends, will be going to post-secondary school in Alberta this fall.
“To see the surprise on her face, because they did cheer together as well as choir – it was wonderful,” Spence said, adding the scholarship is a chance to honour her daughter.
“It keeps us close. Those kids all knew her and appreciated her.”
She recalled recently giving out small gifts to primary Highland dancers, ages six and under, which included a little box of Nerds candies.
“A lot of the parents who were at Lauren’s funeral remember her sister speaking about Nerds, so there were some tears in the crowd when that happened.”
Spence said the family is in the process of creating the Lauren Spence Memorial Trust, which will be open to receiving donations year-round to fund scholarships.
Saturday marks one year since the tragedy. In honour of Lauren’s favourite treat, a cupcake sale will be held at Saskatoon Farmer’s Market from 8 am to 2 pm with money going towards the fund.
Donations can also be made anytime through the Saskatoon Community Foundation Lauren Spence Memorial Scholarship.