Family, friends remember Ottawa County teen with scholarship

Posted at 10:42 PM, Jun 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-10 22:47:21-04

HOLLAND, Mich. — Friends and family of a teen killed one year ago are honoring her with a scholarship in her name.

Nickie Naber was killed in a car crash with 22-year old Jordan Gillespie after their car hit a tree near West Olive. Nickie was just nine days away from her 18th birthday.

One year ago, Nickie's friends and family planted a tree in the backyard on top of her ashes. On Saturday, they remembered Nickie and her passion for life.

What would normally be a sad occasion was quite the opposite. At Nickie's family's home there was a carnival-like atmosphere complete with games, face painting and food.

Nickie was on her way to becoming a first responder so her family came up with the idea to create a scholarship in her honor.

Friends and family of Nickie Naber are remembering the 17-year-old the only way she'd want them to.

"We can sit here and be sad and focus on that one second or we can do this and focus on all of the seconds that came before that one and I think that's a much better answer," said Carrie Naber, Nickie's mother.

It was one year ago on Saturday that Nickie was killed in a car crash. On the anniversary of her death her family and friends celebrated her life by remembering her kindness, tenacity and thirst for life.

"I miss holding her, I miss her laugh, I miss her smile," said Carrie Naber. "I have a 10 month old grandson and a two month old grandson and I see her in the twinkle of their eyes every time they get ready to do something naughty. Every time he's going to do something goody I see Nickie. She's not gone."

Nickie was going to become a first responder so her family created a scholarship in her memory for students choosing the same path.

"She was on her way to becoming a first responder," said Naber. "So we decided the best thing to do was to create a scholarship in her honor."

They raised money through raffle prizes and an auction, helping one Michigan resident on their path to making a difference.

"The world needs more Nickie's and through our scholarship we'll make more Nickie's," said Naber.

At Nickie's final resting place there are pictures of the teen and items left there by her friends and family. Carrie says visitors come sometimes four cars a night to talk to Nickie and remember her. Her loved ones are making sure she's never forgotten.

"The life God gave you is infinite," said Naber. "The thing that makes you live forever is the people you touch."

The Nickie Naber First Responder Scholarship can go to any Michigan resident. The 500 to 1,000 dollars will go strictly towards school and the person selected must complete 10 hours of community service. Naber say the number of lives Nickie would've saved can now grow, by helping other people go on to become first responders.