Snow covers the entrance to Steelhead Drive on Feb. 21, where the new Oso Memorial will be placed. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Snow covers the entrance to Steelhead Drive on Feb. 21, where the new Oso Memorial will be placed. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Gala to raise money for permanent Oso landslide memorial

The PNW Paradise Ball and Auction will benefit a $6 million commemoration and education project.

OSO — Attempts to raise money to build a permanent memorial at the site of the 2014 Oso mudslide will receive a boost from an upcoming fundraiser gala.

The PNW Paradise Ball and Auction in Seattle on June 22 will benefit the building of the estimated $6 million tribute for those affected by the tragedy.

“We are hoping that we are going to get a good turnout and a lot of people are going to support our cause to build this permanent memorial for our loved ones,” said Dayn Brunner, whose sister, Summer Raffo, died in the mudslide.

The gala is a collaborative effort between a committee of victims’ family members, the nonprofit Hope Unlimited and Snohomish County Parks, Recreation and Tourism. It is designed to remind the community of the catastrophic event, the lives lost and that the Oso community needs assistance building this landmark.

The memorial site will permanently commemorate the 43 people who were killed and recognize the heroism of first responders and rescuers. It will describe the geological event to the wider public and provide a space for reflection and healing.

A makeshift memorial of 43 trees exists at the site, but family members say it doesn’t adequately honor the victims or the resilience of their community.

“There is nothing there that tells the story of the event, nothing that tells each individual’s life stories as to what they were doing that day and what happened, there is none of that and we want the rest of the world to know,” Brunner said.

Gala organizers are projecting a six-figure return from the event. The fundraising effort includes a recent allotment of $300,000 from the 2019 state capital budget and more than $80,000 in donations, along with additional grant proposals ramping up this year.

Progress on the memorial began earlier this spring with the unveiling of the mailbox sculpture — a re-creation of the approximately 19 mailboxes that marked Steelhead Drive — at the five-year remembrance event in March.

Construction on a larger scale is expected next year.

“It might be a project that takes a little bit of time and will have a rollout, but we are confident that we will be able to break ground in 2020,” said Shannon Hays, a communications specialist with Snohomish County Parks.

Tickets are available for the formal PNW Paradise Ball and Auction at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront from 5 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $150 and can be purchased at www.slidememorial.com/events.

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3449; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com. Twitter: IanDavisLeonard.

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