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Copley family honors daughter’s love for arts with new foundation

  • Two scholarships provided for graduating Copley High School seniors
  • Tuition for lessons also provided through Chianti Idley Music and Art Foundation

Copley residents Tommy and Crystal Idley wanted to find a way to create some good out of a parent’s worst nightmare: the death of their child.

Chianti Idley, better known as “Kiki,” died by suicide in October 2021 at age 14. Kiki’s death left the family reeling and her parents asking, “Why?” She had never been medicated for mental health issues, nor were there any signs of bullying at school or indications she was depressed. That question, Tommy said, threatened to become an endless spiral.

“We went through her room, her book bag, her locker, her phone and every one of her belongings, searching for a clue that would get us closer to an answer,” he said.

A friend suggested starting a foundation in their daughter’s memory — an idea that Tommy said he initially resisted because he didn’t want something spotlighting her death. Buy he warmed to the idea when Crystal suggested focusing the foundation on support for young people in music and art: two things that were a major part of their late daughter’s life.

In December, the family launched the Chianti Idley Music and Art Foundation.

“Chianti would have loved this,” Tommy said of the new organization. “She was a very giving person.”

While all of their five children have some musical talent, with each studying at least one instrument while in school, Kiki could play multiple instruments, including the saxophone, clarinet and steel drums in the school, plus other instruments such as ukulele, keyboard and harmonica outside of school.

“She could pretty much play anything,” Tommy said.

Crystal and Tommy Idley show a photo of their late daughter, Chianti, in their Copley home.

In addition to music, Kiki also enjoyed drawing, origami, sculpting and rock painting.

Faith has helped the family come to terms with the tragedy, Tommy said.

“I don’t know how I would have been able to get through everything without our faith,” he said. “The questions don’t ever stop. You can get caught in a quicksand of questions.”

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Foundation set up to provide funding, instruments for students

To date, the foundation has accomplished three things, Crystal said. One was providing $1,000 scholarships to two graduating seniors, one who is going into music and one who is going into art.

“That’s just how it worked out this time,” Crystal said.

In addition, the new foundation helped pay the tuition to the sophomores in Copley High School’s wind ensemble, Tommy said, adding that Kiki would have been a sophomore this year.

“The wind ensemble is audition only,” Tommy said. “If you get accepted, you have to take private lessons, which you have to pay for yourself.”

The foundation also paid the tuition for music lessons for two or three other students outside of the wind ensemble, Crystal said.

Cristina Wade, the instrumental music teacher at Copley High School and Copley-Fairlawn Middle School, said the foundation was a loving and generous way to honor Chianti’s memory.

“All of the Idley children have been involved in the band program here in Copley, and their family is so supportive and tightknit,” Wade said. “Chianti was an extraordinarily special student; kind, smart, intuitive, insightful, incredibly musical and creative. Her loss left a hole in our band family, and we miss her very much. I know that the students and families who are benefiting from the foundation’s generosity are very grateful, and their future success will be, in part, thanks to Chianti’s foundation.”

At the Chianti Idley Music and Art Foundation website, keyiscaring.org, there is a means to both donate financially and to apply for assistance. The foundation also is accepting donations of musical instruments. Instruments, Tommy said, can be expensive, even to rent.

Currently, the foundation is offering assistance to students in the Copley-Fairlawn school district, but could expand to neighboring districts in the future, Tommy said.

Crystal said she owns a shaved ice business, The Ice Bucket, and can be seen at community events such as the Summit County Fair. Last year, money in the tip jar went to help the foundation, although this was not advertised at the time.

“We couldn’t say that it was for the foundation, since we weren’t technically up and running yet,” she said.

This year, money dropped in the tip jar will again go to support the mission of the foundation — and this time they can say where the tips are going, she said.

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Idleys aim to make a creative space

Separate from the foundation, the Idleys also are hoping to create a space for students and teachers to come together for music and art instruction. Tommy said they own a building on Copley Road, which they hope to convert into a location for creative endeavors.

“We had this in the works even before Kiki passed,” Tommy said. He added that they have an architect and are finishing plans, but COVID-19 and the difficulty in finding contractors has slowed down their progress.

Meanwhile, the Idleys have created their own arts and music space for their family in Kiki’s bedroom. The room was redecorated to include white carpeting, and a mural of a blue sky with white clouds on the walls. There are several instruments, including drums and a keyboard. The closet space is now a recording studio, with shelving for arts and craft supplies.

“It’s like you are walking into heaven,” Tommy said.

For details on the foundation, visit keyiscaring.org or email [email protected].

How to get help in crisis

Call 988 or text “4HOPE” to at 741741 to reach the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. A text response back may take five minutes or so. This is a toll-free hotline in the U.S. for people in distress who feel like they are at risk of harming themselves.

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Reporter April Helms can be reached at [email protected]