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Determined Mom Marks Son's Death By Helping Others

Keia Guia at E.L.I Group, 120 Vine St.

Keia Guia at E.L.I Group, 120 Vine St.

RENO, NV - Keia Guia has lived every parent's nightmare for the past year. Her nine month old son, Elijah, died June 2, 2011 in the care of his baby sitter.

Although shaken baby syndrome was suspected, the autopsy was inconclusive. The baby sitter fled to the Philippines and no charges were filed.

She found herself dealing with the loss of her son and the frustration she felt with the justice system. On that journey she often felt alone.

"Everybody was right there at the beginning, saying 'I'll be there for you. I'm sorry. What can we do?' And then as time goes on, everybody starts going on with their lives," she now says. "Being alone through that pain and that struggle was very difficult for me and I wanted to change that."

She has channeled her grief into taking up the cause of parents like her, moving beyond candlelight vigils, to founding an organization that bears her son's name, the E.L.I. or Every Life is Important Group.

The afternoon of June 2nd, 2012, she opened its office on Vine Street in Reno.

There she plans to pair each grieving family with someone who has been through what she has, supporting them through the rough times.

"What ELI. Group is hoping to provide is to help usher them back into the community and understand that this has been a terrible tragedy and a horrible loss and we can still go on and we can be empowered again."

But in time, she also expects to press for changes in the law.

"We can do things. We can put out laws that would provide domestic violence laws for children. We can change laws such as the national registry for child abusers right here in Nevada."

It's a cause born of tragic loss, a living memorial for her lost son.

"If I could have him back in a heartbeat I would, but that's not going to happen. So what do I do with the time that's given to me? I'm going to make changes because this isn't just happening to me. It's happening to other women. Other families, to other grandparents. Right now. It's happening right now."


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