Balloon release honors local mother

August 7, 2018

One year later, the friends and family of Lindsey Baldonado are still feeling her loss, after she was fatally shot in her home at the age of 31.

To keep their memory of her alive, and spread information about domestic violence abuse, more than 50 people went out to the UTPB softball fields Monday night to celebrate the memory of their family member, mother and friend.

The ceremony brought together family of Baldonado, as well as old friends and members of the AA group she was a part of. There were tears, hugs, and many stories told of how Baldonado had affected their lives.

“The cup runneth over with all of her friends,” Baldonado’s mother Joyce Tolbert said. “It’s very touching. She touched a lot of people’s lives.”

Baldonado was fatally shot in her home in August 2017. Her boyfriend at the time, 34-year-old Rubin Edwards III, is accused of pulling the trigger. He was arrested following her death and indicted on a charge of first-degree murder.

But there was no talk of Edwards during the event. Friends and family took turns sharing their stories of Baldonado before they all released balloons into the sky in her memory.

The event also featured many people speaking against domestic violence and abuse, including members of the Alternative Motorcycle Club, a local Odessa group of bikers who raise money for causes related to substance abuse and domestic violence. The group had raised around $2,300 for Baldonado’s family after her death last year.

One of Baldonado’s close friends from AA, Ronnie Scrogum, spoke at the event about some of his memories with Baldonado.

“This is some stuff that you just don’t get over,” Scrogum said. “I don’t think it gets easier.”

Scrogum told a story of how, two weeks before Baldonado’s death, they both went with a team to play in a recovery softball tournament in Lubbock. They placed third that year, but following Baldonado’s death, Scrogum said the team decided to make the tournament a yearly venture.

One year later, Scrogum’s team went undefeated at the softball tournament. In the final game of the tournament, Scrogum said they had been down by one run when one of their hitters hit a walk-off home run, winning the game for their team.

“You could feel her presence,” Scrogum said about the game.

At the event Monday, Scrogum presented Baldonado’s mother with the trophy they had won at the tournament, and the game-winning ball.

Also at the event was Rhonda McCalman, Baldonado’s AA sponsor who now works with the Midland County Crisis Intervention Unit to help other families and victims of crimes such as domestic violence. Whenever McCalman encounters a domestic violence victim, she tells them Baldonado’s story and shows them a picture of Baldonado and her two children, 9-year-old Kobi Baldonado and 3-year-old Klariety Coleman.

“It’s real hard for me when I open that and see Lindsey’s picture,” McCalman said. “She’s so beautiful.”

She said she has helped about 5 or 6 people now who suffered domestic abuse.

“I know that’s exactly what she would want me to do,” McCalman said.

Both of Baldonado’s children were also in attendance.

“The only thing I can remember is my mom always making me laugh,” her son told those in attendance. “The only time she wasn’t happy was when you weren’t happy.”

Before the balloons were launched into the air, Trinard Woodard, a longtime friend of Baldonado’s, sang “Amazing Grace” for those in attendance. Afterwards, the sea of purple and yellow balloons was sent off into the sky in her memory.

Edwards awaits trial, and has been in the Ector County Detention Center since September 2017. Jail records show his bond is set at $1 million, and court records list Michael McLeaish as his attorney. No trial date has been scheduled yet.

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