OCOEE The collection of stuffed animals and other memorial items many have driven by in the last two years — near Clarke and Silver Star Roads in Ocoee — is gone.
But in its place is something more permanent, just like 10-year-old Aubrey Clark’s legacy.
The city of Ocoee recently placed a bench at the site of Aubrey’s memorial, a more permanent solution to keeping her memory alive. Next to the bench is a blue metal sign, with her name etched into it, a yellow star topping it.
On Jan. 20, 2015, Aubrey and a friend, Jordan El-Ouadi, were hit by a car while riding their bikes home from Citrus Elementary. Aubrey was taken off life support a couple of weeks later.
Since then, her father, Danny Clark, has been committed to keeping her memory alive and doing everything he can to raise awareness and keep the community updated. After all, she was his little girl.
“It’s been a little over two years, and all the memorial animals kind of got way run down and really moldy; they ran their course,” Clark said. “We appreciated everybody (who) did everything for us, but it was becoming an eyesore for the city, and we understood that. We contacted (Mayor) Rusty Johnson, and he made it all happen. That’s how a more permanent situation became.”
Clark said the idea for the bench has been circulating for a few months, and after it was brought to Johnson’s attention, it went through the City Commission and became a reality last month.
“He made it all happen,” Clark said. “He didn’t just talk about it; he did it. He made the road happen; he made the bench happen, and that’s a leader people look up to for the city. It’s a bench, but people go by there and they’re going to look at it. Some people might just stop and sit there. If nothing, the bench is something. It’s something where she’ll never get forgotten.”
“She always wanted to be famous, and unfortunately, it’s famous for the wrong reason, but I’m doing my best to make sure her name is out there and people will never forget her.” — Danny Clark, Aubrey’s father
Now, anyone who sits on that bench will be reminded of Aubrey. Clark said some of Aubrey’s past teachers already have dropped by and sat on the bench to remember the blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl with an infectious smile.
“When she walked into a room, just her smile alone was infectious,” Clark said of his daughter. “She was daddy’s little girl, you know. Typical, nothing better. You can’t explain it better than that. It was just me and her when she was a baby. (It’s) two years later, and I still think she’s here.”
Clark’s best friend, Tony Evans, added that the support he’s seen for the Clark family continues. He hopes anyone who drives by or sits down at Aubrey’s bench will think of his best friend’s daughter and be inspired to help spread awareness.
“I’ve been there many times at his house, and there’s been so many times when someone would just come drop off a book or a card. It’s great,” Evans said.
“She always wanted to be famous, and unfortunately, it’s famous for the wrong reason, but I’m doing my best to make sure her name is out there and people will never forget her,” Clark said. “People are very aware of what’s going on, and thats the best I can do. I don’t want them (people) to forget, ever. I don’t want her to ever be forgotten. No one wants to be forgotten, but especially not a 10-year-old little girl.”
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].