In the two months since 18-year-old Holli Jeffcoat was found murdered in her Lubbock County home, her classmates and school district have been trying to process her death. After several fundraising efforts, Idalou I.S.D collected $700 which they donated to Special Olympics of the South Plains on Wednesday.
Holli was a special needs student who attended school at the EPEC Co-Op based out of Lorenzo I.S.D., but technically Holli was a student in Idalou I.S.D.
“She loved school, she loved her friends, and she was proud to be an Idalou Wildcat,” said Janet Thornton, principal at Idalou High School. Thornton said she would visit with Holli for meetings on her academic progress and also saw Holli at Idalou I.S.D. events such as home football games.
“It’s been shocking and we’re just saddened by it, Holli was a precious young lady and we’re just all feeling the loss and the shock from it and just hoping justice will be brought in her name,” Thornton said.
No charges have been filed in Holli’s murder yet and the people who loved her are still waiting for answers. Many have been searching for ways to keep her memory alive.
Thornton explained that a teacher at Idalou I.S.D. got the idea to sell bracelets honoring Holli. They selected the color purple for the bracelets as it was Holli’s favorite color. Holli was a Special Olympics athlete-in-training and Thornton said that Special Olympics meant a lot to Holli. Consequently Idalou decided the donate the proceeds from their fundraiser to Special Olympics of the South Plains.
The bracelets were printed with the words “let me be brave” on them, the phrase comes from the last part of the Special Olympics athletes’ motto.
“I think that’s amazing,” said Ashley Pena, Area Director for Special Olympics of the South Plains. “Our athlete oath is one of my favorite things about our organization.”
Pena went to Idalou High School on Wednesday for the official presentation of the check to Special Olympics of the South Plains.
“I really did want to be a part of this especially to thank all students who took all the time out to donate money and raise these funds for our athletes in honor of Holli,” Pena said.
Students explained that they sold the bracelets for a dollar at school and sold over 500 in total. Bracelets were also sold at the campus where Holli went to school in Lorenzo. Idalou I.S.D. also held another school fundraiser where students could pay to wear hats on campus– something students are typically not allowed to do.
Special Olympics of the South Plains explained that all of the money donated will stay with athletes on the South Plains.
“Special Olympics was important to Holli and she enjoyed competing in it, it is a very worthy organization,” said Thornton.”We like to encourage people to support [Special Olympics] but we also want people to remember Holli and not to focus so much on the tragic way in which her life was taken, but to focus on her sweet spirit and the things that she loved. To focus on the happy memories about Holli and focus on Special Olympics which she loved.”
The tragic nature of Holli’s death has also rocked the Special Olympics community on the South Plains.
“I just want everyone to know that our athletes are family, they love one another and the news about Holli didn’t just impact the team she played on, it impacted all the 1,200 plus athletes we have on the South Plains,”
Pena explained. “Each one of them either played against her, they knew her, or their coaches took it hard.”
Pena added that support like the check donated by Idalou I.S.D. means a lot to the Special Olympics program, and she hopes other community members feel inspired to attend Special Olympics competitions and support athletes in their area.
Special Olympics of the South Plains is also looking into donating a brick honoring Holli at the Special Olympics of Texas building in Austin