Community remembers Dana & Sara Keeling

Published 12:47 pm Monday, October 1, 2018

Hope and inspiration continues to grow from the lives of two late Carter County natives.

Family and friends of the late Dana Keeling and her daughter, Sara, joined together Sunday afternoon to celebrate Dana’s 22-year-old birthday on Don Wilson Lane in Elizabethton.

Both Dana and Sara lost their lives during an apartment fire near Pine Ridge Circle in 2016 and their story of positivity and support continues to bring the community together.

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“Even with her and Sara being in heaven, they’re still sharing with people from all over,” said Emma Grindstaff, Dana’s mother and Sara’s grandmother.

Grindstaff was the spark that led to Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency receiving portable ladders for 150 families at Pine Ridge Circle. The ladders were acquired from a community-wide donation drive to honor the lives of Dana and Sara.

The duo were also organ donors, and Grindstaff said she’s learned that since their passing, six people have been able to continue to live due to the Keelings being donors.

“Dana had such a big heart and gave when she could,” Grindstaff said. “Even though they’re not here, they can still give back. It is incredible to see.”

Grindstaff and loved ones spent time remembering Dana and Sara before releasing balloons for both. With the two-year anniversary of their passing just over a month away — Nov. 16 — Grindstaff spoke about the importance of coming together as a community and building off the positives Dana and Sara were able to provide. Grindstaff said she was in a dark place at one point following their deaths, but realized she needed to keep pressing forward to honor their lives.

“Everyone tells me I’m the strongest person, but that’s not the case,” she said. “I don’t have a choice but to be strong for my girls. So many people have been able to benefit from them and I just want to see their story grow and hope it can help bring the community together. They’re two angels from heaven and I miss them so much. But I know they’re smiling down on their friends and family.”

In December, Grindstaff said she’s once again going to work with the American Red Cross for the annual Dana and Sara Memorial Blood Drive. The event has proved to be a key event in the region and highlights Dana’s dream of being a phlebotomist.

To stay up to date with events, Grindstaff encourages the public to check out Facebook and media outlets for more information.