DUNKIRK, Ind. — According to a web site, Brianna DiBattiste was a spunky, caring, loving and kind soul. As a young girl growing up in Dunkirk, Indiana, she spent her childhood much like every other kid on the block.
She played ball, was a cheerleader, rode bikes, swam in her pool, hung out with her friends, went to dances, and was voted prom queen. She especially loved family cookouts and gatherings. She enjoyed meeting new people, and was the type of friend who would put others’ needs first.
Unfortunately, Brianna made a bad life choice at a relatively young age. It was one that would prove to be life-altering for her. While partying with some of her friends she experimented with heroin. Although she would continue using for the latter half of her young life, she tried several times to get clean.
On the evening of June 16, 2014, Brianna left her home in Dunkirk to meet a friend. She didn’t own a car, so she often shared rides with friends. That was the last time anyone in her family would see her alive again.
On September 1, after nearly three months of praying and searching, a body was discovered in a wooded area of the Jay County Conservation Club. Though the family continued to hold on to hope, they also knew the likelihood was very real that this was indeed their loved one. After three more weeks, the DNA tests confirmed the body was Brianna.
The family held a Celebration of Life Service on Oct. 4, 2014, at the Redkey United Methodist Church. The service was led by Pastor Davis, a family friend who walked closely with Brianna’s family as they dealt with this horrific tragedy. During the service, Davis read aloud a prayer that Brianna had written, that her mother had found during her disappearance. The prayer read:
“Please Lord, look after me and my family. Please help me to do the right thing and to show people I am not a bad person inside or out and help me Lord to get through this disappointment again and I know I make mistakes but who doesn’t? I don’t do it to do wrong. I do it cuz I feel I have no other choice. I want a better life, Lord, I do. Please help me. Do to me as what you feel is best. I surrender to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
It was this prayer that became the impetus of A Better Life – Brianna’s Hope.
“Brianna was a beautiful young lady inside and out,” the online story stated. “However, just like you and me, she was far from perfect. She spent a large part of her life battling against heroin addiction until it took charge and sucked her into a dark hole that left her feeling desperate with very little hope. But none of that defined her, nor did it make her life of any less value or worth. Brianna mattered. Although she would not know it, she had found her purpose. Not in life, but in her untimely death. She made a difference, and her story continues to impact the lives of countless others every single day.”
Learn more about A Better Life, Brianna’s Hope at www.ablbh.org