RIVER FALLS, Wisconsin - The mother and grandmother of 3 girls killed by their father in River Falls last summer are working hard to raise funds for a playground in their honor.
Jessica Schaffhausen has started the process by hosting an art show and auction featuring works from her tremendously talented daughters Amara, Sophie and Cecilia.
"I just want something good to come out of what happened to my daughters," Jessica told KARE 11.
More than 100 pieces of artwork have been framed and hung in the gallery. Those marked with a red tag are on display, but are not available for sale. They are works near and dear to a mother's heart. Jessica Schaffhausen couldn't help but be a bit overwhelmed looking around the art gallery Thursday morning.
"It's a bit gut wrenching. It's hard. I miss them very much," said Jessica. "I look around at this and I see how incredibly talented they were and it makes me a little angry because it reminds me of how much the world was robbed of."
"But it makes me tremendously proud that I was able to bring them into the world and at least they have this legacy left," Schaffhausen added.
The grand opening of the art display will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, August 9th at Gallery 120 in downtown River Falls. Organizers are still in the process of putting the work online and the auction is expected to last for a couple of weeks in August.
If you'd like to see the work, it's on display Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at Gallery 120.
"They would be very proud," Jessica said. "I really wish they could be here. They'd be blown away. I know Sophie was dreaming of having her first big art opening. It breaks my heart that she's not here for it."
Money raised will go towards a $555,000 playground that Jessica hopes to have built near the school and cemetery. Designed by Unlimited Play, it contains corners that feature the personalities of the 3 girls. Themes have been derived from Amara's athleticism, Sophie's fashion sense, and Cecilia's love of bugs. Plans were unveiled to the public on Thursday.
More than $80,000 has been raised already and if you'd like to donate, you can find the link to Unlimited Play here. Click on the Tri-Angels Playground tab.
Back at the art gallery, the works hanging on the walls remind Jessica Schaffhausen of a conversation she had with her oldest daughter Amara.
"She informed me 'Mom, I'm going to go to MIT (in Boston) and I'll be there for a couple of years and then Sophie can come to this art school and I'll be able to watch out for her," the mother said.
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