MARYSVILLE, Wash. - It was a farewell that brought tears to everyone in attendance. The parents of Grace Tam took to the Bethlehem Lutheran Church stage to sing "Amazing Grace." John Tam struggled to get through the song as Grace's mother Tamami played the piano, gesturing her head in support of her husband, who tearfully made it through the song.
"Grace, what a beautiful name. Grace," said the pastor of the church, as he spoke words of encouragement to the hundreds who gathered to remember Grace.
The 11-year-old honor student, who loved teddy bears and kung fu, died last week after a chunk of ice fell on her at Big Ice Caves near Granite Falls.
"There was a lot that went on up at that mountain that day and it was important to honor Grace," said Renee Navlet. Navlet stayed with Grace's parents for two hours while they waited for paramedics to arrive.
"We will not know if the outcome for Grace would have been different if the helicopter would have arrived earlier, but maybe it won't be the case for someone else."
Navlet is now focused on getting an emergency phone booth and kit placed near the caves.
"It would be called Grace's phone," said Navlet.
But without cell phone service or phone lines the Forest Service says an emergency phone would be costly and unrealistic.
Navlet said her determination in making this happen, is unwavering. "My first thought is, what's a life worth?"
Grace had been planning to test for her red belt last Friday, and during the service, Grace's kung fu teacher awarded her a black belt.
"Kung fu is more than just a physical practice, it takes endurance, integrity and Grace had that," he said.
School and neighborhood friends spoke words of love and shock over Grace's death, a tragedy hard to comprehend for her peers.
"When Grace passed away I was in shock, because she was such a nice person. I cried for days," said one of her friends.