Walkers mark girl’s life, tragic death
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
Oct 12, 2012 | 2326 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CASA’s Light of Hope Moonlight Walk
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HUNDREDS OF WALKERS turned out to participate in CASA’s Light of Hope Moonlight Walk. Thursday evening’s walk honored the memory of Melisha Gibson, who died as the result of child abuse. She was 4 years old when she died. Banner photos, GREG KAYLOR
A good crowd turned out to honor the memory of a little girl who died 36 years ago today. The CASA Melisha Gibson third annual Light of Hope Moonlight Walk was a success once again, according to Executive Director Suzanne Wisdom.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Christina Young, the daughter of the late Sgt. Dewey Chastain of the Cleveland Police Department, gave a teary-eyed recount of her life and her father’s passion for the Melisha Gibson case.

Melisha died Oct. 12, 1976, of injuries she suffered during days of abuse from her stepfather and mother, Ronald and Wanda Maddux.

Chastain served as one of the pallbearers who carried Melisha’s body to its final resting place in Sunset Memorial Gardens.

Young was born nine months after Melisha’s death but told of how she grew up loving a little girl she never met.

“She has been a part of my life all of my life,” Young told the walkers before they set out on their journey to honor the memory of Melisha. “My daddy always felt bad because she was up at Sunset alone. He attended the walk last year but wasn’t able to participate.”

Chastain died a month later and was buried on the hillside at Sunset Memorial Gardens.

“She meant so much to him. Although he couldn’t protect her, he spent every day showing the love and kindness she never received. Melisha’s name and memory have been a part of my life as long as I can remember,” Young said.

“His body was laid to rest on the hill, overlooking the little girl who meant so much to him. I knew at that point, she would never be alone again. I also find great comfort in knowing they are together now. She now gets to experience the fatherly love she desperately sought. In life, she never knew the unconditional love, but in death she will be loved and cherished forever,” Young said.

Melisha Gibson’s death caused major changes in child abuse reporting laws in Tennessee and across the U.S.

CASA of Bradley County, through grant funding, community and private donations and volunteerism, provides a voice for children who are caught up in abusive family relationships, according to Wisdom.

For additional information about CASA of Bradley County, contact Wisdom at 716-1844.