Those close to Yeardley Love still wonder what could have been.
Had they known the warning signs of domestic violence, could they have saved her life?
Love, a Virginia women’s lacrosse player, died on May 3, 2010. Love’s former boyfriend, George Huguely, was convicted of her murder in 2012.
The event sent shockwaves through the UVa community, Charlottesville and the nation. The story and death of a 22-year-old athlete days away from graduation came as a horrific jolt to those in the UVa program and those close to the Love family.
Ten years later, the Love family and the Virginia lacrosse program are determined to save lives in Yeardley’s honor through the One Love Foundation.
The foundation, quickly founded by the Love family after Yeardley’s death, aims to educate young people about healthy relationships, while also teaching people the warning signs of unhealthy relationships. The foundation hopes to prevent people from suffering the same preventable fate Love endured.
Deciding to focus on relationship education came a few years after the foundation’s initial creation and an increased focused on making a difference through education has developed through the years.
“I’m still amazingly proud of Yeardley,” UVa women’s lacrosse head coach Julie Myers said. “Even though we haven’t had her for 10 years, her impact is still being felt every day and probably more so every day.”
Through educational videos and in-person workshops, the One Love Foundation aims to teach people what healthy relationships look like. It also developed 10 signs of both healthy and unhealthy relationships.
When looking for the 10 signs, people can better determine if they’re in an unhealthy relationship or if one of their friends or family members is in a bad situation. The organization teaches ways to help loved ones safely remove themselves from unhealthy relationships, which can become dangerous without a plan.
“Really we should consider relationships pretty fundamental building blocks for our young people, and yet, if you think about it, most of us learn about relationships on the fly,” Katie Hood, One Love’s CEO, said. “There’s no common language or way of teaching and given the importance, that seems silly because it is teachable.”
Those close to Love didn’t notice the warning signs of potential issues between her and Huguely. The criminal investigation into her death revealed troubling behavior by Huguely during and after his relationship with Love, including sending her threatening messages. There were warning signs.
One Love wants to make sure people know how to spot those signs.
“We only started this educational campaign in 2015, but what’s amazing is every time you go to a workshop, you literally see the light bulb go off in somebody’s eyes, where they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh’ and sometimes they’re saying, ‘I’ve seen this before, like this happened to me,’” Hood said.
Those light-bulb moments help make the work worth it for Hood. A family friend of the Love’s, she helped give the foundation a direction when she became the CEO in 2014. She was with one of Love’s cousins the day Love died. The memory remains vivid in her mind, and she’s not the only one.
People reach out to Hood and share their memories of when they heard the news of Love’s death a decade ago. The story was memorable for many.
Hood wants to use that shocking memory for good.
After a few years of focused educational campaigns, Hood believes the foundation in Love’s memory is doing a lot of good.
“In addition to seeing the light bulb go off in the workshop, we get letters almost every day or notes or emails saying, ‘You changed my life,’” Hood said. “‘You saved my life. I got out of an abusive relationship, I helped a friend.’ Seems pretty worthwhile to keep the work going. It seems like the perfect way to honor Yeardley’s life by helping other people.”
One Love helps keep Yeardley’s memory alive, and the foundation’s mission has been embraced wholeheartedly by the UVa lacrosse program.
Myers keeps pictures of Love in her home, her three children wear One Love bracelets and the team often participates in educational workshops. The athletes also partake in “Yards for Yeardley,” where they count their yards of exercise — whether it’s running or swimming or biking — and use the exercise as a campaign to raise awareness and fundraise for the One Love Foundation.
This year’s goal of people across the nation completing 100 million yards of exercise was achieved on the first day of the month-long campaign, which extends from April 3 to May 3.
Love’s legacy and memory remains strong within the Virginia women’s lacrosse program.
Feelings of sadness won’t ever disappear when those close to One Love remember Yeardley. Questions of what could have been will always linger.
There’s no bringing Yeardley Love back.
Myers shared thoughts about what Love might be doing if she were alive today. She could spend time with her close friends. She might have a family of her own by now.
Pain surrounding questions of what could have been remains, but there’s also tremendous hope about what’s to come.
The One Love Foundation exists because of Yeardley Love. Her memory lives on through the foundation’s work to help those in unhealthy relationships.
“If you can’t have Yeardley, I do think the One Love Foundation is the next best thing,” Myers said.
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