Family of teen who drowned sets fundraiser to help other teens - KMOV.com

Family of teen who drowned sets fundraiser to help other teens

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Courtesy of Cindy Chapman Courtesy of Cindy Chapman
SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -

A local family is doing what they can to remember the teenager they lost last year.

Henry Manu was only 18 years old when he died on June 25, 2016.  He and a friend were swept away when they stepped into the Meramec River while on an outing.

“I’m still in shock. I still think that Henry is on vacation. I can’t believe it’s about to be one year since we lost Henry,” his aunt, Sunita Manu, said.

Manu, her mother and Henry first came to the United States as refugees escaping the war in Liberia. She said she never imagined she’d lose him this way or this early.

“Henry and his friend do not know how to swim and Henry knew better than to go swimming in a deep river,” she said.

The community rallied together and helped raise funds for Henry’s funeral. The family was able to raise more than what was needed.

Manu said she wants to build up the leftover funds to create the Henry Manu Memorial Scholarship Fund. The money will help students wanting to attend Lutheran High School Association.

“A student that wants something better than what they have now. A refugee that came here with nothing like Henry and I did that wants to achieve success, educational success or can be an American kid that comes from a low-income household,” Manu said.

The idea is fitting because Henry went to Lutheran High School South on a scholarship.

“He was just a great leader and a great person. They are many like him who would want to follow in that same path and this is a great way to support them and to help them provide for them the kind of education that will enable them to reach their full potential,” said Timothy Lutheran Church pastor, Ron Rall.

Henry was a member of Rall’s church. Pastor Rall remembers the teenager as having a magnetic personality.

“We saw right away that he had good leadership qualities. All of the other refugee African immigrant kids that we have here, they sort of looked up to him and followed him,” Rall said. 

That’s part of why Manu wants to keep her nephew’s memory alive. She said the scholarship will serve as a way to do just that while shining light on other teens.

“That’s what Henry would do, support another kid. He was all about giving and this is the only way giving and this is the only way I can also remember him, it’s just to give back,” Manu said.

The “Shine the Light Gala” is set for June 24 at Timothy Lutheran Church from 6-9p.m. Tickets are already available. You can find more information here.

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