The mother of Mollie Tibbetts, in her first television appearance since an arrest was made in her daughter's killing, asked for donations Wednesday on what would have been Mollie's 21st birthday.
Laura Calderwood appeared Wednesday on "Good Morning America" to commemorate her daughter's birthday and to encourage donations to "Mollie's Movement," which is helping to restore Iowa's Brooklyn Opera House, which closed 21 years ago after its floor collapsed.
The performing arts were very important to the University of Iowa student, her mother said. "We are asking people to donate $21 in honor of Mollie and we thought that was a reasonable amount that anybody could participate in," Calderwood said.
The Tibbetts family wants to thank the community that helped search for Mollie, who disappeared while jogging in July 2018. She was found stabbed to death in a cornfield about a month later.
Cristhian Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in her death. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is scheduled to begin in September.
"Mollie was very gregarious, welcoming, outgoing, empathetic," her mom said Wednesday. "She loved running. She loved theater arts. She loved singing in the shower. Mollie was very dedicated to theater arts, she was in plays."
Calderwood said she is still in mourning, but tries not to dwell on her daughter's killing.
"It was indescribable and it took a higher power to get me through it, it really did," she said. "But we got through it. I don't wanna feel anger. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it at all.
"I mean, people have asked me, you know, 'Will you ever forgive him?' And I said, 'I haven't, I've gotten nowhere near that,'" the mother said.
Though she has stayed out of the public spotlight for the most part, she decided to come forward on her daughter's birthday. "I just hope that we've set a good example. And with all the kindness that was given to my family and to the community — keep that in mind and pay that forward.
"I mean, I received the kindness and now I'm trying to pay that forward," Calderwood said.