Kids, friendsremember sweetheart of little girl

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2008


Staff Reporter

RESERVE –Dozens of pink balloons floated underneath dark rain clouds above a throng of pink clad students at St. Peter Catholic School in Reserve on Wednesday.

Moments earlier, after they had sung “Happy Birthday” for the last time to their peer Destiny Champagne, the students had let go of the thin ribbons separating their balloons from escape into the atmosphere.

It had also been one thin ribbon that brought an end to Destiny’s short life earlier in the week when she was accidentally asphyxiated after getting tangled in a ribbon on a bedpost at her grandparent’s home.

“We are here to celebrate the life of Destiny Champagne, and that we got to share that life,” St. Peter Principal Barbara Hollier said to the gathered students, some of whom seemed to not understand the significance of the ceremony and were more excited to let the balloons go. In fact, a few balloons escaped through the hands of anxious children as cries of exultation broke out at the sight of the ascent of a single balloon.

“They won’t see Destiny again. They’re sad, but their childhood protects them from pain,” said Hollier. “It is a blessing they don’t feel the full impact.”

“They are four so they don’t understand it a lot,” said Celeste Toupes, Destiny’s teacher’s aide. “She’s in heaven and she’s OK, and that is pretty much all they need to know.”

Destiny’s mother, Melissa Champagne shared hugs with family members and teachers.

“She would have loved it. She loved balloons. She loved pink. She would have loved it,” said Champagne.

Champagne described her daughter as the happiest child you could ever find.

“It was like she was an angel walking on earth,” said Champagne. “She knew how to comfort people.”

Champagne went on to tell a story about Destiny seeing an anonymous little girl crying and going and hugging her and telling her it was OK.

“She was the momma of the class,” said Toupes. “If there was a problem she would make it better.”

The ceremony ended as the balloons disappeared into the obscurity of the rain clouds and the memorial christened “Destiny Day” was brought to an abrupt end.

The students began to disappear back into their classrooms, though it was clear through the smiles on their faces Destiny had succeeded in comforting them again, if only in memory.