A Kite Festival in their Daughter's Honor - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

A Kite Festival in their Daughter's Honor

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This spot overlooking the Missouri River next to the Mandan Indian Village is a special place to the Seth family. They funded a memorial park and garden for their daughter Sonali, a Century High grad who passed away last year.

"Bring her to the spot where we spent a lot of evenings in the summer eating ice cream, just looking at the river," recalls her father, Vinod Seth. "So, the park or the area, the location meant a lot to us. And gardening has been our love. I mean, you come to our home, there's a big garden, perennials everywhere. So it was a natural thing to do."

Sonali was in medical school when a life full of dreams and ambitions hit a road block.

"She was making rounds at the pediatric department and then, she just had a seizure," explains her mother, Aruna. "And she was diagnosed with brain cancer. And we took her to Mayo and she was operated on. And we followed the regular chemo, radiation treatment for a while. She was in remission for four and a half years and we're thinking we were home free and then one day another MRI just showed up that the cancer came back again."

As the end drew inevitably near, her parents rearranged their lives to be with and care for her. Some of the last words she said are etched at this park for all to see.

"I went down there, and she had a big smile on her face,"says her father. "And I said, 'Sonali, what are you so happy about?' And that was her response. 'Dad, happy is the only way to be.' So it just totally, just took me totally, just amazed me that this girl who was laying in bed, so disabled and having given up so much of her life, medical school, her ambitions, her dancing, singing, everything. And she, I mean, seven o'clock in the morning I'm down there and she's got this big grin on her face, and happy is the only way to be."

They've decided to honor her memory by holding an annual kite festival. She learned to love kites when her parents took her to visit their native India.

"January 14th is a very significant day, flying kites in our states," says Aruna. "And if you look at it, you can barely see a sky. All you see is kites on January 14th. And she grew up and she loved that sport. And so, when we were trying to do something in her honor and trying to bring family and community together, this is one sport where you don't need any training or anything. Family comes together and you just fly kites and have fun."

It's a little cold to have a kite festival in Bismarck in January. So, instead, it will be held this weekend. The only drawback to Sonali's memorial park is that it's not big enough for a lot of kite flyers, so the festival will be held at Hoge Island Park instead, on Sunday from 1:00-4:00 p.m. It's free, and there will be music, food, prizes, and of course, kite flying.

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