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Published January 06, 2012, 05:30 PM

Local Family Helps Community Through Own Tragedy

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - After losing a loved-one, a Grand Forks family wants to help others in the community. They've started a foundation to raise awareness and build a hospitality house in the area.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - After losing a loved-one, a Grand Forks family wants to help others in the community. They've started a foundation to raise awareness and build a hospitality house in the area.

A Grand Forks woman who died nearly five years ago is having an impact on peoples lives today thanks to her family.

In Shannon Larson's memory, her family is making sure what happened to her won't happen to anyone else.

Shannon Larson's family started calling her "sunshine" at a very young age.

"She was happy. When you talked to Shannon, when she walks into the room from a little girl she always had a smile on her face," Shannon's father Van Larson said.

Shannon grew up in Grand Forks, after meeting her fiance, the couple moved to Arizona in November of 2007.

"They moved there and within five or six days of moving there, this is when they went on their first hike on a Saturday," Shannon's brother Donovan Larson said.

The couple had hiked before, but they weren't prepared for the warmer temperatures. They had one liter of water and it wasn't enough.

"Today I think about her, tomorrow I think about her," Van said.

Shannon suffered from dehydration and collapsed 150 yards from the car. She never regained consciousness and died on the way to the hospital.

"Everyday and anniversaries before and after are a little tough after her passing," Van said.

After coping with Shannon's death, her family wanted to make a difference in the town she grew up in. They started the Sunshine Memorial Foundation and this year The Sunshine Fest will help raise money to build a Hospitality House for those who need it.

"We have identified with people in the community that there's a real need for a hospitality house that would help families receiving medical care in Grand Forks and the greater Grand Forks community," Donovan said.

The Larson family also raised nearly $8,000 dollars last year with a walk and fun run, and they're helping to raise awareness about the importance of hydration for hikers.

"We do need to make a difference and if we can save one life that would be good," Van said.

If you would like to register, donate or volunteer you can log onto www.sunshinememorial.org

The Sunshine Fest runs January 19 through 21 with award winning country artist Paulette Carlson.

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