PEMBROKE — Family friends of twin sisters who died in their sleep five years apart are reaching out through the Internet in an effort to reunite the girls in the same burial plot.
They are making an appeal in Robeson County because one of the sisters was a student at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke when she died almost three months ago.
Lisa Steffes, a Lumberton resident, and Mamie Brooks and Kayko Thompson, both from Georgia — all friends of the Burrill family of Hinesville, Ga. — are leading the fundraising campaign called the Reunite Ally and Dani Memorial Fund, named after Allyson and Danielle Burrill.
The goal is to raise $15,000 for a headstone for Allyson and a burial plot for both sisters. To donate, visit Go Fund Me at www.gofundme.com/reuniteallyanddani.
Allyson, a junior and Air Force ROTC cadet at UNCP, died on June 2 at age 21. Danielle died on March 28, 2008, at age 15. She was a cheerleader at Bradwell High School and a member of the youth group at Gum Branch Baptist Church in Hinesville.
Steffes was Allyson’s biology lab partner at UNCP, but never met Danielle. She said Allyson loved bull-riding, surfing and traveling, but her true passion was the Air Force.
“She had just been accepted into the pilots program and was looking forward to that upon graduation from UNCP,” Steffes said.
Steffes said Allyson shared holidays and vacations with her family in Lumberton if she was unable to return to Georgia.
“Ally was like one of my children,” she said. “We loved her dearly.”
The fund-raising effort will include the “Making Dreams Come True” Benefit on Saturday from 2 p.m. until midnight at the Long County Wildlife Festival in Ludowici, Ga. Activities will include a 19-foot water slide, zip line, corn hole tournament, mechanical bull, glow run and live rock music.
A total of $2,840 had been raised on Go Fund Me as of today. A yard sale in the Burrills’ neighborhood and a drink sale during Community Night Out in Hinesville on Aug. 3 raised about $1,500, Brooks said.
Brooks, who is the benefit’s primary organizer, said a second yard sale is planned for Sept. 14 in Georgia “because we did so good on the last one and we have a lot of stuff left over.”
She said Danielle was “very religious” and wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon.
“Dani was very bubbly,” Brooks said. “She was just fun-loving … a real nice girl.”
The Robesonian was unable to reach the girls’ mother, Wendy Bruce.
Brooks said the girls’ deaths were unexpected.
“There was nothing wrong with them. They were healthy girls,” she said.
Brooks said she and the Burrill family hope to have $15,000 raised by the end of September, but if not, “we’re just going to keep going until we do.”
Brooks said the sisters need to be reunited in death because they were always a pair during life.
“They came into the world together,” she said. “They need to be together, and that’s just the way it has to be.”
Brooks said if money is left over, it will be donated to charity or no-kill animal shelters.