Family, friends remember Ana Grace Márquez-Greene - CBS 5 - KPHO

Sandy Hook: Tributes to the Lost

Family, friends remember Ana Grace Márquez-Greene

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Ana Grace Marquez-Greene "(Photo courtesy of The Ana Grace Project) Ana Grace Marquez-Greene "(Photo courtesy of The Ana Grace Project)
NEWTOWN, CT (WFSB) -

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where on Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six adults lost their lives, Eyewitness News will share a little about each person's life and how their families are honoring their legacies.

With a smile that lit up a room and a gift of bringing people together, Ana Grace Marquez-Greene had a joy that was not containable, her parents said. There wasn't a piece of music she didn't like to dance to, and her parents admit that every day that goes by without her, it gets harder.

Eyewitness News sat down with her mother, Nelba Marquez-Greene, a family therapist whose focus is now moving forward and spread cheer that radiated from the 6-year-old girl.

"How do we make the most of this horrific and very personal tragedy in a way that would be honoring her, and us, and God?"

From unimaginable grief came hope when the Marquez-Greenes teamed with Klingberg Family Center and created the Ana Grace project. The mission of the project is not only to honor Ana, but ensure another Sandy Hook doesn't happen again.

"What we're doing is bring as many resources as we can to help families be strengthened, help communities get strengthened," said Steve Girelli with Klingberg Family Center. "Help connections with people we see as sort of a protective factor that helps people suffering from mental health illnesses and a risk for all kinds of problematic issues."

On Dec. 2, there will be a conference in Ana's memory called Love Wins, which will bring  together medical professionals, researchers, clergy and parents. The day will be filled with seminars, discussions promoting community and of course music.

"Ana was that kind of child that brought people together from all different walks of life; all different races, cultures, ages," Nelba Marquez-Greene said. "In that spirit, we'd like to see people who typically don't partner together in this state come together and say we have one united goal. Let's be one."

Ana also left behind her father, Jimmy Greene, who is a renowned jazz saxophonist, and her 9-year-old brother, Isiaah.

The family has set up a music scholarship in honor of their little musician for incoming freshmen at Western Connecticut State University where Jimmy Greene is a music professor and assistant coordinator of jazz studies.

"We used to play a lot and sing hymns or Christmas carols or play the piano," said Nelba Marquez-Greene. "It was our favorite thing to do. We had a quartet. We miss that now."

Now this trio is learning how to move beyond the devastation.

"It's important that my husband and I honor Ana's memory, but also model for our son that trauma can shape you," said Nelba Marquez-Greene. "Trauma can influence you, but it doesn't define who you are."

Nelba Marquez-Greene said what defines her family is the inspiration they have brought to countless others as they deal with this beautiful yet brief life of Ana. They said they pray with hope and grace that from this senseless violence comes a legacy that will last for generations.

"I hope the legacy she left behind will live on, but just as important as that is we will make a difference," said Nelba Marquez-Greene. "And Connecticut will lead the way in its treatment of children and families recognizing that mental health and isolation is the most important thing to pay attention to."

To honor Ana, the family is encouraging people to attend the Love Wins conference on Dec. 2, which is the inaugural event of the Ana Grace Project.

For more information on or to register for Love Wins, by clicking here or by calling Eyewitness News at 1-866-539-9372 for a mailing address.

Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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