UVALDE, Texas — Amerie Jo Garza – a Uvalde girl remembered by loved ones as ambitious, smart and loving, with hopes of one day becoming an art teacher – turned 10 just two weeks before she died in last week's attack on Robb Elementary.
Before that shooting, she was awarded for making Honor Roll. What began as a proud day for her family turned into one of heartache, and on Monday, instead of celebrating the start of summer with Amerie, her loved ones united for a rosary and prayer service.
Friends and family say Amerie died a hero, as she was one of several students who tried to call police when the gunman was inside their school.
At Uvalde Town Square this week, Amerie’s cross is filled with gifts and messages from a mix of family members, friends and strangers, some of whom have traveled to Uvalde to pay their respects.
In front of her cross, written in chalk, one person said that Amerie is a “Girl Scout sister forever."
In a Facebook post, the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas shared that she was a bright and outgoing fourth grader. The post read, in part, that she loved Play-Doh, playing with her friends at recess and being a girl scout.
“Her parents say she was proud of the badges she earned,” the Facebook post read.
The organization is also honoring her with a special medal. In a post to Facebook, the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas announced they are awarding her the Bronze Cross, one of the highest honors in the Girl Scouts, to recognize Amerie's bravery. The cross is awarded for saving or attempting to save life at the risk of the Girl Scout's own life.
According to her obituary, Amerie loved swimming, drawing and spending time with family.
In an interview with CBS News last week, Amerie's stepfather said he just wants his little girl back.
"I don't want to do none of this," he said. "I don't want to go to the funeral home, I don't want peoples' condolences. I don't want to do none of this. I just want my baby back, please."
In her obituary, Amerie is also described as having "a heart of gold," and a love for Chik-Fil-A and Starbucks vanilla bean frappuccinos.
While the pain in Uvalde is great, it's clear the neighbors in this town of about 16,000 is determined to honor the victims.
Amerie’s viewing is happening Monday until 9 p.m. The family is asking those who want to pay their respecting to try to wear lilac or lavender, Amerie’s favorite colors.
Her funeral is set for Tuesday afternoon at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. KENS 5 will not be attending, out of respect for the family's wishes and privacy.