Sydney’s Smile: Carmel family honors late daughter’s memory by paying it forward


By Mark Ambrogi

Sydney Campbell was blessed with a light-hearted spirit.

Shelley and Bruce Campbell and their two younger daughters, Shea and Mia, lost that light in their life when Sydney died at age 19 after being hit by a distracted driver in 2011. Sydney, a 2010 Carmel High School graduate, and her boyfriend, Jason Uhrin, 21, were walking across East 82nd Street to their apartment and were hit by a driver trying to make repeated phone calls. The accident happened on Dec. 27, 2011, and they both succumbed to their injuries the following day.

“The lady had forgotten to clock out of her job at the mall at Keystone and kept calling, trying to get someone to pick up,” Shelley said.

As the Carmel families struggled with their loss, they searched for a way to honor Sydney’s memory. Shelley said the family motto has always been, “How do we leave someone better than we find them?” Sydney always did her best to do that.

“Sydney had a beautiful smile, and she smiled a lot,” Shelley said. “A friend of mine who knew her since she was little said we ought to call (the foundation) Sydney’s Smile. We just want to pay it forward. It’s how do you take something so horrific you can’t even put words to it and use it for good? That’s what we’re trying to do.”

So they have created Sydney’s Smile foundation to help fund annual scholarships at Aveda Frederic’s Institute, an Indianapolis cosmetology school where Sydney graduated in 2011. Shelley awarded the first $3,000 scholarship Aug. 11. Those applying for scholarships made videos, in part about not texting and driving.

Shelley has made part of her mission teaching others about not texting and driving.

“The message is to pay attention and don’t text and drive,” said Shelley, who said she has since been rear-ended by a driver who was texting prior to Sydney’s death. “One of my goals is to hook up with (an) organization about texting and driving. I pass cars, and every fourth car is not paying attention.”

In the spring, Shelley said around Sydney’s birthday (April 28) the family did a canvas-painting party to fundraise with 30 people at their house.

They have begun with to collect new and gently used shoes. They have set up collection sites at Aveda and their church, Church at the Crossing, in Indianapolis. Their goal is to collect 25,000 pairs of shoes.

“In turn, they will pay us 40 cents a pound for those,” Shelley said. “We get our revenue to create the scholarships, and funds2orgs will give the shoes to third-world countries such as Haiti.”

Mia, 18, graduated from CHS in May and is attending IUPUI. Shea, 21, a 2014 CHS graduate, will take a year off before returning to Indiana State University.

“I believe we can do something good and positively impact the community and possibly the world, because we are going to send (these shoes) off to third-world countries,” said Mia, who has been helping her mother with the projects.

Dunnichay earns first scholarship

Aveda student Mary Beth Dunnichay, a 23-year-old Elwood resident, earned the $3,000 scholarship from Sydney’s Smile. Three other students, Savannah Zello, Hannah Moore and Sara Brooks, received $100 scholarships.

“It was a two-minute video about how we were going to pay it forward and continue on Sydney’s foundation and legacy,” Dunnichay said.

Dunnichay said it also was about how they were going to discourage others from texting and driving.

“I’d be lying if I said I’ve never done it, but I try my best to use voice control and not do it,” Dunnichay said.

Dunnichay, a diver at Purdue and 2008 Olympian, graduated with a degree in mass communications in May.

“But my dream was to go to cosmetology school,” Dunnichay said. “This is what I wanted to do and my passion.”

It was Sydney’s passion, too. Shelley said she loved Aveda and began working there after she graduated.

Kelsey Collins, Noblesville, and Sydney were classmates at Aveda and became fast friends.

“It was the third day of class and we just clicked,” Collins said. “She said, ‘Come sit over here,’ and she was just great.”

Suiters said Sydney was “a loving person who was really great at her craft.”

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