ELYRIA — Rachel Rosh didn’t know Najia Boone, but she was honored to wear a prom dress in her memory Saturday.
Rosh, a 17-year-old Elyria High School senior, was recommended by Elyria Schools to receive $160 to help pay for the dress from the Najia Diara Rayal Foundation. Eight-year-old Najia died in 2009 after being accidentally shot by her older brother.
The family established the nonprofit foundation to honor her and reward high school senior girls who have excelled academically and displayed good character. The foundation has honored girls annually since 2010.
Rhonda Washington, Najia’s grandmother, said the foundation also is planning to establish an after-school program that will include gun safety training. Washington said she supports universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and reduce accidental gun deaths.
Washington said she is trying to find a building in Elyria to house the program. It also will include a thrift store to help fund the foundation, she said.
Washington thanked Applebee’s for donating a gift card and Puffers Floral Shoppe Inc. for supplying a corsage to Rosh. Michelle Rosh, Rachel Rosh’s mother, said she was proud of her daughter for keeping Najia’s memory alive.
“We wish it could be her that was going to go to prom, but we’re honored that Rachel was chosen,” the elder Rosh said.
Rachel Rosh received a partial academic scholarship to attend Heidelberg University in Tiffin in the fall, where she plans to major in education.