SAN ANTONIO — Rena Castro says she remembers her daughter Erin as a beacon of joy, taken too soon by the all-too-common tragedy of teen violence.
"Before Erin passed I thought this was an adult problem and I was horribly wrong," Castro said. "There’s so many kids going through this. When I first put out Erin’s story I was bombarded by girls- hundred and hundreds of messages."
Castro says her daughter was an intelligent, outgoing go-getter who dreamed of being a veterinarian.
"Erin was so sweet," Castro said. "So sweet, so giving, so real – she was a best friend to everybody she was friends with. She was a hard worker. She loved life, she loved her family. She’d do anything for her friends, she was really a good friend, she was a good person, period. She was so fun to be around, I think I miss that loudness…. Cause she made her presence known when she walked in the house like, hey- what’s everybody doing? It’s quiet without her. Everything is different without her."
Castro says during her daughter's freshman year, she met a boy who she became friends with, and that he pursued her. She says they started dating sophomore year, and she noticed changes in her daughter- changes she now sees as the early stages of an escalating pattern.
"Are they not hanging out with their friends as much? Are they changing the way they dress or not wearing makeup? Are they not into the activities they used to be into? Are they not doing things with the family like they used to before?" Castro said.
She says on her 19th birthday, Erin was violently attacked and killed- ending the life of someone who brought so much joy to the world.
"I feel like now I have responsibility to get the word out, bring awareness to teens- younger teens- before they even start dating. Show them warning signs that maybe not everyone sees," Castro said.
Through her heartbreak, Castro- and other friends of her daughter - are pushing for change. Right now, registration is open for the "Justice for Erin 5K Run/Walk" and family fun day on February 22nd at Woodlawn Lake Park- meant to raise awareness of a serious issue while building community and showing support in a positive, upbeat setting. They're planning to have live music, games, a costume contest and more - all raising money for scholarships to help survivors of teen dating violence, an epidemic that the CDC says affects far more teens than many parents expect.
Castro's family and friends hope that raising awareness in her memory will hope save lives and prevent other teens from facing the pain, trauma and tragedy they say she faced.
You can learn more about Castro's legacy, their efforts and her legacy at the links below.
You can register online at justiceforerin.org, or if you need help registering, attend an upcoming event. For information, click here: https://www.facebook.com/361257844474608/photos/a.362215707712155/538877016712689/?type=3&theater