BOSTON (CBS) – Lingzi Lu was just 23 years old when she was killed at the Boston Marathon finish line.
Originally from China, she had moved to Boston just eight months earlier. It was her dream to study at Boston University.
“She was a hard working girl, ambitious,” said Helen Zhao, Lu’s aunt. “She dreamed to accomplish a lot in her life. It was just really sad it got cut short.”
Though her time in Boston was brief, Lu fell in love this city. In fact, the connection she felt was so deep that her parents made the difficult decision of burying their only child here. A world away from their home in China.
“She didn’t finish her dream. I think her parents felt like since she passed away here so let her spirit rest here and almost like keep dreaming,” said Zhao.
“Keeping the dream alive” is the theme of the foundation Helen helped create in Lingzi’s name. The money supports causes Lingzi felt passionate about and gives back to the city she loved. The foundation donates to the Boston Police Athletic League, which brings children of different backgrounds together for educational excursions and to “One World Strong,” a network of support and hope for people impacted by acts of terrorism.
“That’s all we want is to do some good work for this community and hopefully they remember Lingzi,” said Zhao.
This year, 12 runners will take part in the Boston Marathon to raise money for the foundation, including Michelle Xia, who was also at the finish line that tragic day.
“There was like a loud noise to our left. A couple seconds later the one to the right went off. Then the fear trickled down toward us and we started seeing people screaming,” said Xia.
For Xia, Lu’s story hit closest to home. She too is from China, and studied at Boston University. Now five years later she will run the Boston Marathon in honor of Lu and return to the finish line for the first time since the bombings.
“It’s kind of like closure, going full circle, going back to that finish line. I’m running for a cause that’s greater than myself. I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing this for her. I’m doing it for her foundation,” said Xia.
Together, Helen and the runners hope to keep growing the foundation so one day they can sponsor cultural exchanges and give students the chance to see new places and meet new people. Just like Lu was able to do in Boston.
“She was a girl from China who followed her dream here. It didn’t finish. I wish there’s other young kids that learn her story and get inspired to pursue their dreams,” said Lu.
Lu’s parents plan to travel to Boston for the fifth anniversary and to thank the city for the outpouring of love and support. Click here for more information or to donate to the Lingzi Foundation.