SOUTHINGTON — The mother of a Southington High School graduate killed in an early morning crash in January has started a foundation to help youths in need of mentoring.
Deborah Garner took her son Ty Harris’ motto of “different” to name her organization, Make It Different Foundation. She incorporated the foundation about a month ago and has a fundraiser planned to benefit Camp Gilead in New Hampshire, a camp her son attended.
Harris, 19, was one of four people in a car that crashed on Interstate 91 in Enfield earlier this year. Three, including Harris, were pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver, Christopher Vegas, 19, of Plainville, was injured, according to state police.
Garner has filed a lawsuit against Vega, the owners of the car and state police.
She started the foundation “to keep going that outpouring of love for him.”
“We want those things to continue,” Garner added.
Harris started attending Camp Gilead, a Christian youth camp, in his freshman year. The character and spiritual development along with the community there transformed him, according to his mother.
“We thought he was a different person,” she said. “He was talking different, he was so respectful and caring and giving.”
Harris’ challenge was the time away from camp, when he faced the temptation to drift under the influence of friends, his mother said. While the foundation will support the camp, Garner also wants to start a mentoring program.
Harris’ father fell ill while Harris was in high school and Garner described herself as an unintentional single parent. After high school, Harris again began to drift. The night of the accident, he’d driven with some acquaintances to a party at Keene State College in New Hampshire.
“They didn’t make it back,” Garner said.
On Nov. 24, the Make It Different Foundation will have a benefit lunch at the Outback Steakhouse, 817 Queen St., from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $25. For more information call 860-983-4618.
Mike Drury, Southington High School football coach, said Harris played football from his freshman to junior year and described him as a "big personality." Garner said there have been a host of friends and acquaintances who have spoken about how Harris impacted their lives, including helping them through difficult times.