Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the unveiling of this memorial is not open to the public.
A memorial for King Soopers employee Teri Leiker will be unveiled Friday at Via Mobility Services, more than a year after the Table Mesa King Soopers shooting that claimed 10 lives, including Leiker’s.
Leiker, a woman with a disability, was a frequent user of Via Mobility Services, using the nonprofit’s accessible transportation services to travel to and from her job at King Soopers for 19 years.
“Via pretty much saved her life,” said Margie Whittington, Leiker’s mother, to Via Mobility Services in an article published last year. Without Via, she couldn’t get to the job she loved, and I’m not sure I would have been able to drive her for every shift.”
As she continued her commutes, Leiker became a part of the Via community, making friends with mentors and leaving a lasting memory to those she spoke with.
“Teri watched my kids grow up,” said Mikki Schoech, a mentor who knew Leiker for almost 20 years. “Over time, [we] became more of family friends. She had a pretty big heart for caring about her community and the people around her.”
Schoech was a supportive living counselor when she met Leiker, helping clients with balancing checkbooks and helping hire providers for clients, working closely with both Leiker and her boyfriend at the time. After changing positions, Schoech began volunteering as a friend, especially during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schoech emphasized just how important transportation was for Leiker and others who used Via’s services, making the difference between connecting disabled users to the world around them.
“Not being able to drive means that accessing the greater community is not always easiest,” Schoech said. “In the end, transportation options like Via become really important to Teri. It’s nice that it’s being recognized.”
For now, Schoech hopes to gather with friends of Teri’s and attend the memorial’s unveiling.
“It [was] a tragic loss to lose that whole piece of community for everyone at King Soopers…I remember I would shop there periodically so I could check in on her. She always had a big smile.” Schoech said.
The memorial is set the be unveiled on Friday, and that event is not open to the public.