GONZALES — Shayla and David Lanus’ mission to keep the memories of their two children alive continued last week as more than 400 people gathered to celebrate Kool Kids Day in Jambalaya Park on the anniversary of the children’s death.
“They were always cool kids, and that’s how we’ll remember them,” said Michael Dunbar, a cousin who designed a T-shirt worn by many at the celebration.
“They were full of good and people need to know just how good they were,” Dunbar said at Kool Kids Day.
Sarai “Ladybug” Lanus and her brother, Daylon “Duce” Lanus, died June 24, 2014, when a sport utility vehicle ran off the road and plowed into them, their father and two other adults who were fishing along a Prairieville road.
“I want them to be remembered not for what happened to them, but the great things they did and what we’re continuing in their names,” Shayla Lanus said.
For David Lanus, who was followed throughout the event by his youngest son, Dyson, 2, it was about “all of the kids.”
“We all have cool kids and we want to celebrate that,” David Lanus said.
Kool Kids Day featured free food, games and entertainment and reminders of “what they liked to do,” Shayla Lanus said. The Lanus family also announced the recipients of six scholarships to area youth camps.
Sarai took dance lessons at Center Stage Performing Arts Academy and was a cheerleader with the Ascension Cougars. Daylon was active in several sports.
They both loved books and learning, their parents said. Children could pick up free books at one station.
“We miss her lovely smile,” said Center Stage owner Larry Schexnaydre, who brought academy members to the event to perform scenes from an upcoming production.
The Lanuses said they have found support from neighbors and area residents who came together to help them “honor our cool kids.”
David Lanus described his late children as smart, well-mannered and fun-loving. He sees those traits in his youngest, surviving son, he said.
“He’s both of them together,” David Lanus said.
Life-size photos of Sarai and Daylon stood on the stage.
Malaysia Ruffin, 22, a friend of the family, said she was happy to help at the event. She sat at a registration table handing out coupons for the free food and activities offered.
“They were great kids and this is a wonderful, loving family,” said Ascension Cougars Football League organizer Leon Blouin. “That is worth celebrating.”