BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — A tree is now growing on the University of Colorado Boulder campus as a dedication to the 10 lives lost in the grocery store tragedy last March.
The tree was planted in the fall but dedicated Thursday in a ceremonial planting. It is located at the northeast corner of Farrand Field.
“This is probably the most public spot you could pick,” CU student Juniper Loomis told FOX31.
According to CU arboriculture manager Vince Aquino, not only did CU Boulder’s Tree Campus USA chapter committee choose the location because it is “the social heartbeat of campus,” but also because Farrand Field is where the marching band practices.
“The marching band was particularly impactful to Teri Leiker, a King Soopers employee who died in the March 22nd shooting,” CU said in a publication promoting the tree dedication.
The tree is a catalpa, which is known for flowering early in the spring, unique fruit and heart-shaped leaves.
“The wood from catalpa is sometimes used to make instruments, and we know that one of the victims, Teri Leiker, had a connection to the CU band. And so it’s kind of a tenuous connection, but it seemed to make a little sense,” Aquino said.
While the tree has special meaning for Leiker and her family, it is meant as a memorial to all 10 victims.
Aquino and his team have helped organize and plant numerous memorial trees all over campus. He said a tree is most often meant to memorialize a faculty member who has passed on.
“This one’s different. I’ve never done one like this and I hope I never do another one like this,” Aquino said.
The campus organized a small ceremony to dedicate the tree. It featured a handful of speakers, including Loomis, who also worked at the Table Mesa King Soopers at the time of the shooting and was friends with two victims.
“I think we all lost more than the 10 lives, the lives of 10 people more than a year ago. We lost our sense of community and a sense of safety,” Loomis said during the short speech.
Loomis was also the first to grab a shovel and help finish planting the tree. Others, including Teri Leiker’s family, joined in. The names of all 10 victims are written on paper hearts that are buried within the roots.
“I think this is a step toward healing for myself and for other people, for the community,” Loomis said. “Trees can represent growth and change and I hope that students remember the significance of what happened.”