Group of teens offer day of healing in Grantsville

GRANTSVILLE, Utah — The Grantsville City Park was filled with kids, puppies and characters Saturday.

A group of teenagers from Tooele County wanted to do something to help uplift the Grantsville community.

On Jan. 17, police say 16-year-old CJ Haynie shot five members of his family, killing his mother and three of his siblings over the course of several hours.

Sean Wright doesn’t know the Haynie family personally, but he saw the community hurting and wanted to jump in.

“Someone said on one of the Facebook groups that they’ve never seen a community so sad in their life,” he said.

He, along with several friends and Cosplay Utah, showed up at the Grantsville City Park Saturday dressed as characters from some popular movies such as "Star Wars" and "Frozen" to name a few.

“The opportunity to make people happy and to cheer them up are very precious to us and we take them whenever we can,” he said.

The goal to make people happy seemed to work as people of all ages enjoyed a happy afternoon in the park. It was a special day, Grantsville resident Christy Nielson said.

“Little do you know that it’s made a huge impact on these kids, just whatever age, 0 to 18, this has impacted them," she said. "Just to be able to take them and let them be like this, it’s kind of like the next best thing to Disneyland. It’s nice to be able to have them come out here and do this willingly, put their heart into it and help the community."

It’s been a tough few weeks, Nielson admits.

“I try to put myself in that situation. I try to put myself in what would it have been like, just to try to even emotionally be there for Colin and Danny [Haynie] and just to try to even support,” she said.

No matter how many years pass, Neilson said, this community will never forget what happened and will never stop supporting the remaining members of the Haynie family.

“When something happens, we literally rally around each other. Like it’s not like something happens and people forget, we will never forget. We will always be there,” she said.

The mission to help bring light during dark times won't end with this event, Wright said.

“A couple years ago, my friends and I were at a convention and, not a kid, an olderish guy, he’s in his early 20’s, he walked over to us and said he was special needs and that he’s not much of a talker but he’s a hugger, and the smile that he put on his face was so awesome as he got to hug Darth Vader and Han Solo that we decided that this is what we kind of wanted to do,” Wright said.

Wright and others are working to start a nonprofit called "For a Good Cos," where they will raise money, as well as host and attend events dressed as characters (cosplay) to spread cheer and happiness. In the meantime, they are continuing to show up to events to spread joy.

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