Children at Masunda South Primary School in Zimbabwe will never know Heather Campbell, killed in a car accident last May on the George Washington Parkway at the age of 24. But they will have reason to remember her: for every drink of clean well water, for textbooks, for school expansion, for continued opportunities and for the promised fulfillment of her short life's goals.
The Heather Campbell Memorial Fund and the private aid organization Africare together have gone a long way toward realizing those goals. A commemorative event Sunday night at the Tysons Corner Marriott Ballroom raised more than $8,000 to help implement some vital programs, beginning with construction of a well.
About 200 guests attended the affair that featured recitals by pianist Richard Kimball and flutist Lloyd McNeill.
The fund-raiser also included a speech by counselor Jonathan Wutuanashe of the Zimbabwe Embassy, an invocation by Heather Campbell's brother, Tom, and a 20-minute video on the African-based projects to be funded by the event.
The fund-raiser was organized by Heather's parents, Pierce and Beverly Campbell, who began the memorial fund along with Frank and Lela Kimball of McLean.
"It's a wonderful thing they're doing," said Washington psychiatrist and WMAL radio talk show host Joe Novello.
"All this -- the support, the money -- this is the best way to remember someone."
Yet Heather Campbell's family and friends say that such an elaborate display would not have been Heather's idea, noting that her unselfish dedication to others was purely instinctive.
"We're not trying to make any big deal about it," said Tom Campbell, 30, a Fairfax attorney. "A lot of people loved Heather and just wanted to show how much."
An attractive young woman, friends said, Heather Campbell scarcely gave her appearance a second thought, they said; instead, her attention and enthusiasm were directed toward the world around her. While enrolled as a broadcasting student at the University of Utah, she sponsored an African child -- without her parents' knowledge at the time. "We didn't even know where Heather got the money for it," said Beverly Campbell. "But that's how she was."
"On the night of her junior prom she and her date saw a dog get hit by a car," Beverly Campbell recalled. "She took it to the vet and stayed with it 'til 1:30 in the morning. In a glorious gown, looking absolutely magnificent, she missed the prom for the sake of a dog."
Added an acquaintance: "She was so unaffected by her striking beauty. She was a joy to be around."
Heather Campbell's former employer, Jim Moore, of the Republican photographer's office in the House of Representatives, observed:
"If a person's value in this world can be measured by concern for others, then Heather's value was, and remains, at the highest index of the measure." Those attending the Sunday night function did not linger on a lost but far from wasted life. Instead, they guaranteed it even greater meaning. They heard the music and the speeches, watched the video, and pledged their money. Half a world away, a war-torn country and its children will benefit from their efforts.
In addition to a new well, funds from the Heather Campbell Memorial will support self-help projects at the 461-student, seven-grade Zimbabwean school and in the surrounding community. Other plans include a scholarship fund for promising students to help them continue their education at secondary, technical and university levels.
"Heather would have liked it," said her mother.