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Community remembers boy who died of hunger, sparking Dare to Care's creation

It was Bobby's death that sparked Dare to Care Food Bank's creation 50 years ago.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It's been 50 years since a Louisville boy was discovered at home in his bed, dead from malnutrition. 

Sunday night, more than 150 people gathered here at Byck Elementary to remember 9-year-old, Bobby Ellis, who died of starvation on Thanksgiving Eve. 

Ellis also attended Byck Elementary and was about 30 pounds when he died in 1969. His five brothers and sisters ranging from age 1 to 11 were also underweight. 

"It coincides with the 50th anniversary of Dare to Care Food Bank so we're just thrilled to have the kind of support and turnout we had tonight," Brian Riendeau, the food bank's executive director, said. "It reassures the community that the commitment to continue Bobby's legacy and ensure that what happened to Bobby never happens again is alive and well in Louisville."

It was Bobby's death that sparked Dare to Care Food Bank's creation 50 years ago. 

"What happened to Bobby never did happen again. That's the good news. The not so good news, our work isn't done yet. We're certainly not declaring     victory tonight," Riendeau said. 

Governor-elect Andy Beshear spoke to those who attended the vigil. Others at the podium included Louisville council members Barbara Sexton Smith and Donna Purvis. 

"I just really felt compelled to get out and be apart of this," Pam Sheehan said.

Sheehan works at Byck Elementary as a behavior coach. She attended the vigil for the first time with her friend Phillip Cherry and  her mother. 

"It just astounds me when you think of, you know, this was so long ago and here we are it's the same thing," Sheehan said. "It's heartbreaking but I'm happy to be where I'm at."

She said Bobby's memorial vigil makes her thankful ahead of Thanksgiving this year.

"I'm just thankful to have the opportunity to be here right now," she said.

"Hunger unfortunately, is a real issue 365 days a year," Riendeau said. "We hope that this holiday season, reminds those who have enough that that's great but a lot of folks don't have enough and we need to do something about it."

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►Contact reporter Tyler Emery at temery@WHAS11.com. Follow her on Twitter (@TylerWHAS11) and Facebook.

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