Hundreds of Colton residents attend Aristrong Foundation’s inaugural Cherished Memorial to honor deceased loved ones

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Loved ones, young, older and everything in between being honored with candlelight and a slide of their image over a projector.

Aristrong Foundation Co-Presidents Chris and Nikki Villalobos are keeping their daughter Arianna’s name and spirit alive by giving the community a hand-up in multi-faceted ways via a Cherished Memorial to honor the lives of those who have passed away. 

“My wife Nikki and I lost our daughter Arianna to glioblastoma brain cancer in October 2019, so we understand what it’s like to live with a hurting heart and know how much support means during the grieving process. With the Covid-19 pandemic, so many people within the City, across the nation and the world never really had the chance to celebrate and honor the lives of loved ones who passed away, so we knew a forum like this was important” said Chris Villalobos.

About 250 community members attended the memorial on May 28th, and 91 loved ones were honored and memorialized at Fleming Park.

“Grief is a continual process, and it truly showed at the memorial as some people were honoring loved ones who recently passed away, while others were honoring loved ones who passed away 10 to 15 years ago. One person came up to me and said that this memorial was the first time they ever had the opportunity to honor their loved ones in this way,” continued Villalobos.

Attendees received a keepsake, and while walking on stage to light a candle in memory of the loved one, the deceased loved one’s name was read over a speaker, and a slide of their image was shared. 

“Events like this unify and bring the community together. When Arianna passed away, she said if Jesus took her home, she wanted us to start an organization and help people, not just children like her; she wanted us to offer hope and heal the hearts of people of all ages in our City and beyond,” concluded Villalobos. 

Since the 501c3 began in 2020, it has had the honor of helping families pay rent after receiving eviction notices, assisting with funeral expenses, hosting Easter basket giveaways and more. 

Arianna Villalobos passed away at 15 on October 1st, 2019, and keeping true to her values of helping others, before her death, she asked her parents to donate her brain, tumor, spine, and all viable organs to science, which are now at Stanford University. 

The organization’s next big event is the Aristrong Car Show and Kickball Tournament on November 6th, 2022. 

For more information, visit aristrong.org.