Clewiston students raise $5,000 for former classmate’s funeral

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CLEWISTON, Fla.- As news of Expavious Tyrell Taylor’s death circled Southwest Florida friends,former classmates and teachers were stunned.

“My E-911 class Monday morning was very, very quiet.” said Kristine Petersen. Taylor was a student in her criminal justice class last year.

“He would come in that classroom, and have that big glorious smile on his face every day,” she said. “This is a caring young man who would have made a difference in any neighborhood that he worked in.”

Taylor was killed one week ago at ZombiCon in downtown Fort Myers. Senior Kyra Chute and her fellow classmates realized they had to do more to help his family.

“He touched a lot of hearts, so we wanted to touch his families. So that’s how we all got together, and we decided to do this, just for him and his family.”

They held a lunch fundraiser at the high school, inviting students and community members to purchase burgers, chips and a drink. The funds all going to Taylor’s grandmother, Stella.

Petersen said her students were shocked to learn how expensive funerals are, and wanted to help ease the financial burden of burying a loved one.

“On the low end, the very, very low end it was about $10,000. And that’s an eye opener for young people, they don’t think about that.”

She told WINK News the fundraiser was a big success. They sold 800 hamburgers before the end of the day.

“The community is wonderful. My phone has just blown up this week, I’ve never had so many texts. But that’s a good thing.”

The day was about more than just the money, said Chute. She felt others should use this as an example, and remember Taylor’s spirit.

“I didn’t think it would ever happen and now that it did, it really puts into perspective that it can happen to anybody, any day.” she said. “I hope that everyone will remember Tyrell for who he was. He was a really good person. And I kind of hope that it changes the way we are, in our own lives.”

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