In an effort to raise money for her daughter’s headstone, local resident Pamela Haynes has decided to walk from her farm in Mayes County to Lone Elm Cemetery in rural Claremore. Haynes said all funds donated in sponsorship of the walk will go towards the purchase of a headstone from Hollisters Monument Company.
Haynes departed on her 50-mile hike Monday, two days before the fifth anniversary of her daughter’s death. Her daughter, former Sequoyah High School student Vanessa Swaissi, was shot and killed during a robbery on July 31, 2008 in Oklahoma City.
Gang members Nicco Barnett, 18 at the time, and Laverie Franklin, 21, were charged with first degree murder.
Barnett received life in prison without parole while Franklin received 35 years with possible parole.
Haynes said Swaissi was working to put herself through college at Rose State and planned on getting a degree in counseling.
“She wanted to make it her life’s goal to help troubled youth,” said sister Ronni Carrocia. “She would have done anything she could to make somebody smile. There’s not a day that goes by that she isn’t missed.”
The trip will consist of about 10 miles of walking each day, two days there and two days back. Haynes’ donkey “Charlie” and Rottweiler “Jack” will accompany her on the hike in honor of her daughter.
“Vanessa lived for animals. She was willing to help any person or animal in need,” Haynes said.
An account has been set up in Vanessa’s name at all RCB Bank locations. Checks should be made out to Hollisters Monument Co.
Currently, Swaissi’s burial site consists of a black rod-iron bench and trellis with a face plate.
Haynes said the family is hoping to raise about $1,500 to purchase a “decent” stone which will be displayed in front of the trellis.