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Rose River Memorial at Kansas

May 1th , 2021.
This Girl Scout is remembering 5,000 lives lost to COVID-19 as Kansas inches toward grim milestone May 1.

On the day of her junior prom, Anna Newcome woke up early, loaded several boxes into trucks and drove over to the Kansas Statehouse with friends, family and other volunteers to plant one felt-fabric rose for each of the 5,000 Kansans killed by COVID-19.

For her Girl Scout Gold Award leadership project, Newcome had committed to organizing Kansas's installment of the national Rose River Memorial, to honor each life lost to COVID-19.

Newcome, a junior at Topeka West, had first started planning the project about four months ago, holding Zoom conferences and sending emails to people and rganizations across the state who would help her realize the ambitious project.

The original draft of the project called for 4,000 roses for 4,000 lives, but Newcome had to revise that to 5,000 when Kansas passed 4,000 deaths in February.


Amid the Capitol's off-white stone, the lawn's deep green grass and the serene blue sky Saturday, the 5,000 roses stand out almost like blood drops on the Statehouse's north lawn and walkway. They are attention-grabbing, and Newcome said she intentionally picked this weekend to install the project ahead of the state Legislature's return for the veto session. Legislators like Reps. Lindsay Vaughn and Linda Featherston helped Newcome arrange for the project, and Featherston on Saturday even volunteered and helped install roses on the north Statehouse lawn.


[Rep. Linda Featherston and her daughter Anna poke garden stakes through spiraled felt in the shape of roses on Saturday as part of Girl Scout Anna Newcome's Gold Award project to plant roses at the Statehouse honoring 5,000 Kansans who have died from COVID-19.] "It's a striking sight, and it's a reminder of what the state has suffered," Featherston said. "I hope other legislators take a minute to reflect on all of the souls who have gone, and the families they've left behind."

Mary Middleton, a friend of Newcome's family who has taught her and her siblings at French Middle School, was especially moved to help Newcome with the project, having lost her mother to COVID-19. Thanks to Tracy Hull and the Girl Scouts of America.

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