(KWWL) – Wednesday would have been the 21st birthday of Mollie Tibbetts, the University of Iowa student who disappeared last July. Tibbetts’ mother, Laura Calderwood, used today as a way to celebrate her daughter’s life.
“It’s comforting for people to see me out there doing something positive,” said Calderwood. Often, she says she is a grieving mother but knows Mollie would want her to move forward.
“If Mollie has eyes on me, this is how she would want me to react,” said Calderwood.
For Mollie’s birthday, Calderwood asked for donations for Mollie’s memorial fund, which was set up by her family following her disappearance and murder.
“Part of it is to give 21 dollars in Mollie’s name, that’s a big part of it,” said Calderwood.
That money will help the psychiatric wing at the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital, which is fitting since Mollie was studying child psychology.
“No matter what your issue was, Mollie was there to listen,” said Calderwood, recalling a number of times friends of Mollie’s shared stories of how she helped them.
Businesses like Micky’s Irish Pub in Iowa City, donating 10% of the day’s sales toward the fund.
“I think it was a no-brainer. I mean we would help regardless if there was a tie to her or not,” said pub owner David Stein. Mollie’s brother currently works at the pub and Calderwood worked there years ago, saying that’s how she put herself through college.
Stein says he’s happy to see the community supporting Mollie.
“I mean this was just a tragic thing that happened to our community, I think everyone coming together to make some good come from it, it is the most important thing,” said Stein.
For Calderwood, it’s not about the money but the message of children’s mental health awareness.
“It’s bringing awareness to that, I mean we talk about everything else these days, so what’s wrong with that? Help them while they’re young before it manifests into something bigger,” said Calderwood.
You can still donate here.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man accused of killing Tibbetts, is set to go to trial in September.