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inspIRAtion - In Loving Memory of Ira Yarmolenko

Today, May 5, 2010 marks the second anniversary of Ira's passing. Ira was taken from her family, friends and community at the hands of her assailant(s); her victimization was totally random. Today...I, along with many others dedicate today to Ira Yarmolenko.

Ira graduated from Chapel Hill High School in 2006 and began studying at UNC-Charlotte. There, she was a member of the Russian Club and a photographer and occasional writer for the student newspaper. Ira was was born in Ukraine but grew up in Chapel Hill, a 2006 graduate of Chapel Hill High School and a sophomore at UNC-Charlotte at the time of her untimely death. Everything that Ira ever did was to help people. Ira had planned to transfer to UNC-Chapel Hill to major in public health after finishing the semester at Charlotte.

We celebrate Ira's life with fond, loving memories and forever hold her in our hearts. Wherever you may be please light a candle at 1:00pm in Ira's memory. Please keep all victims that we have lost as well as their families and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane,
I'd walk right up to heaven and bring you home again.

Words of Ira's friends missing her greatly:
***Local poet C.J. Suitt, the director of the youth poetry slam team Sacrificial Poets. In slams, the "sacrificial poet" goes first. He or she warms up the crowd without competing for the night's prize.For the Sacrificial Poets group, the name also refers to Ira Yarmolenko, whom C.J. Suitt got to know on a trip to New York City for the Brave New Voices performance poetry competition. He was a freshman at Pembroke; she was a senior at Chapel Hill High. "She had a real appreciation for family and where she came from," Suitt says. "She would write these poems about being in her grandmother's kitchen. You could just see the images." Later when Yarmolenko enrolled at UNC Charlotte, they would call each other three times a week and challenge one another to write a poem off a word or phrase: "coffee," beautiful" or "fly-smothered trash." One day in May 2008 just before the lunch rush, Suitt's supervisor at the Rizzo Center, where Yarmolenko had also worked, told him she was dead. Two years later, Suitt talks about his friend's "passing away." The phrase seems forced, naive even. But Suitt says calling Yarmolenko's death a murder would dishonor her memory. "All the time that I knew her I never knew her not to be happy and smiling," he says. "A lot of times people need someone to point a finger at - 'That's the bad guy,' " he continues. "I think removing that allows me to focus on the positives and what I can do to keep the positive going. "Can I provide poetry to some kid who otherwise might become a murderer? I think it can be that powerful. I think it can be that powerful because without poetry I don't know where I'd be. And I think what it's done for me it can do for other kids as well." Ira had left a voicemail just a few days before to finalize details for that summer's Brave New Voices trip to Washington, D.C. Suitt hadn't had a chance to call her back. "I just listened to the message over and over," he says. "She just sounded really happy."

***I missed her smiled and tell me have a good day. She always smile at me every time I went to Jackson's Java. She was a good caring and hard working person. She is such a beautiful young lady. She is incredible human being and we'll never forget her.I met Ira after hitching around AK for a while and she help me land a job at the village in Denali. Everyone at the lodge loved her, and with good reason. From what I knew of her, she was an amazing person. She was one of the few that showed this lonely hitch hiker friendship, and it means a great deal to me. To Ira's friends and family, I am deeply sorry for your loss. The world seems a larger and less friendly place without Ira in it. She was such an inspiration, always smiling and always having a kind word to say to everyone... Ira, you are loved and missed. I don't know how horrible the last hours of your life were, but I...

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