TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -- 10-years ago the Terre Haute Fire Department called it one of the worst home fires in recent Terre Haute history. It was a fire that claimed the life of 23-year-old Kayla Lewis and her 2-year-old daughter Gabrielle Cunningham. Now, 10-years later the family is working to make sure this tragedy doesn't happen to anyone else.
March 5th is a date that will forever be marked in the mind of Valerie McCullough and her family.
"It's 10 years that we lost Kayla and Gabby," she said
Kayla, just 23 at the time, and her 2-year-old daughter Gabby died in a tragic house fire in Terre Haute. Mccullough said days later, they were told the house they were renting didn't have working smoke detectors and they might still be alive if it did.
"You don't know what woulda been, coulda been, shoulda been," she said.
Since then, McCullough, along with the Terre Haute Fire Department has been advocating to make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home.
"Because if we can learn anything from Kayla and Gabby, check the smoke detectors. You might save a life or your very own," she said.
So, the protect the precious program was born. It's a non-for-profit helping folks in the community get smoke detectors installed, and batteries checked.
Mccullough said it's a small thing that could make a huge difference.
"That way Kayla and Gabby didn't lose their lives in vain. If we can save somebody else it's all you know, I hate to say worth it, but learn from what we've been through," McCullough said. "You don't want to go out to Highland Lawn and see your loved ones and that's where I have to go see em."
Friends and family have planned a balloon release to remember Kayla and Gabby. That's happening Friday night at 6:30 where the house fire happened.
If you or someone you know is in need of a smoke detector, or you want to help the program, visit their website, here.