Most Viewed Stories
Spirited farewell for Yuba City teenager
Memorial services for Kayla Lizama-Pierson are scheduled today at noon at the Chapel of Twin Cities, 715 Shasta St., Yuba City.
More than 600 people came together in the River Valley High School gymnasium in Yuba City on Sunday evening to pay tribute to a beloved recent graduate, and to sing, dance and laugh in her honor.
Friends aired recent video featuring their fallen friend, Kayla Lizama-Pierson, who had celebrated her 18th birthday just before the car accident that took her life last week.
The recordings show an exuberant and uninhibited teenager full of humor and song, and surrounded by members of a big, lively family. Click here for a slideshow of the celebration of life.
"I never met a Lizama that didn't smile, and to me that makes a difference in the world," said Steve Allard, 42, the disc jockey who emceed the evening's lineup of entertainment.
The first time he met Kayla's aunts and uncles and parents, Allard was only about 11 years old, he told the crowd.
"They were poppin' and breaking and gettin' down," he said of the family.
Their spirit, he said, made quite an impression on him.
Kayla's family roots on the Pacific island of Guam were on display, he said, the day she graduated from Andrew Karperos Middle School.
"She wore Spam and Top Ramen on the lei around her neck," he said, chuckling.
The custom is Guam's distinctive take on the tradition of flowers — or in the case of the Philippines — candy.
On Sunday, Ekika Concepcion, 16, danced a traditional hula in memory of her cousin. The dance form is one she learned as a small child on the island.
She ended her dance by removing leis of shells and purple ribbons from her neck and placing them around those of Kayla's parents, Clarence Pierson and Angie Lizama-Pierson, seated among a large group of family members on the gymnasium floor.
"Purple was Kayla's favorite color," she said, looking around at all the purple T-shirts worn by family and close friends.
Jordan Mahon, 17, a senior at River Valley, wrote and performed a rap song in honor of Kayla, whose family he said his life had been intertwined with since the start of middle school.
His lyrics expressed shock and sorrow he felt since learning about her death.
"I shoulda said my prayers before I went to sleep that night. ... God needed an angel so he got you," Mahon wrote. "Don't cry 'cause I know she wouldn't want me to — her smile when I'm down could've pulled me through."
Outside, Ron Benton, a Yuba City athletics coach who has seen Kayla and her three siblings through a variety of sports, manned the fundraising tables piled with baked goods, trinkets and 50 donated pizzas from Mountain Mike's in Marysville.
"One thing you can count on with this family is if one is involved in something, they're all there," he said.
"And they treat everybody like family," said Karen Hovey, a family friend.
"They really love each other. That's what families are supposed to be," Benton said.
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.