Antinette "Toni" Keller — the same color of the sunflower design she created and had tattooed on her chest.
Remembering the Plainfield 18-year-old at a 2010 memorial ceremony, a friend said Toni enjoyed the positive comments the tattoo generated from people who saw it.
“'I love to make people feel happy,’” the friend remembered Toni saying.
Now, nearly two years after her death, supporters of the Keller family hope to help Toni keep making people feel happy with the cheerful flower by placing a sunflower bench near the entrance of Prairie Park in DeKalb.
Thelma Holderness, organizer of the Summoning of Yellow Facebook page, said a donor has already come forward with 10 percent of the cost needed to purchase the steel bench fashioned in the shape of sunflowers.
Keller, a freshman at Northern Illinois University, was reported missing in October 2010 after telling friends she planned to take photos in Prairie Park for an art assignment. Her remains were discovered days later in the park.
Holderness said the bench is intended to replace a white cross erected on DeKalb Elks Lodge property near a Prairie Park entrance.
“I don't know, but to me, the artsy sunflower bench honors Toni moreso than the stark white cross,” Holderness said.
Holderness, who works as a janitor at NIU, said the DeKalb Elks plan to start a money jar donation campaign in DeKalb, but a fund has also been established to help raise the remainder of the $2,900 needed to purchase the bench.
The memorial fund was established by parents of one of Keller’s NIU classmates, Holderness said. Checks payable to Missing Antinette Keller can be sent to:
Missing Antinette Keller
P.O. Box 102
Kingston, IL 60145
“… This is a joint effort with our Elk's who love and support [the Keller] family, and as the rest of our community, forever changed by the murder in their back yard, literally,” Holderness said.
Members of the Summoning of Yellow Facebook page have taken to donning Toni's favorite color and attending court hearings as a show of support for the Keller family.
William Curl, accused of sexually assaulting and murdering Keller, is scheduled to go on trial Dec. 3.
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