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Walk Will Remember Sleepy Hollow High Grad Jessica N. Santos

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Gisela Marin says the nearly five years since her daughter was killed in a drive-by shooting in Yonkers have been a really hard time.

“She was my only child,” Marin said.

Marin’s daughter Jessica N. Santos was about to enter her sophomore year at the University of New Haven, where she was studying criminal investigations and forensic science.

Santos was killed after Anthony Burton, 17, of Yonkers fired six shots from a car while passing the grocery where Santos was saying goodbye to friends on August 27, 2006. Santos was the only person to get hit.

Marin said the past five years have also been hard on her family and Jessica’s friends. Jessica, a graduate of Sleepy Hollow High School, had a lot of friends—she was “very kindhearted,” Marin said.

Jessica was also the person who “would do anything for anyone,” Marin said.

This Sunday, Marin and others will gather to remember Jessica at Kingsland Point Park for the fifth annual Jessica N. Santos Memorial Walk and Family Fun Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is hosted by the Jessica N. Santos Foundation, which works to honor Jessica’s memory by raising and giving out scholarships to Sleepy Hollow High School students as well as University of New Haven students studying criminal investigations.

Sunday’s memorial walk and family fun day will feature the walk, music, food, games, raffles and a butterfly release, according to Marin. If someone missed the preregistration period, Marin said, they can still register for the event on Sunday from 10 to 10:45 a.m.

The butterfly release has a long story behind it, Marin said. For starters, Jessica loved butterflies.

Additionally, during Jessica’s funeral, a butterfly happened to be flying around the funeral home, Marin said. A family member caught it and decided to release it at the cemetery, where it then flew three times over Jessica’s casket.

“Butterflies have had a special meaning,” Marin said.

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