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KC Zoo’s contest to name penguin honors late teen who loved penguins

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What started as a contest turned into a mother's chance to share her daughter's legacy. The Kansas City Zoo was looking for a unique story to give someone the chance to name a penguin. The community voted, and chose a story about Sara "Bob" Prideaux.

Allie Doss said behind her daughter's framed eyes and long dark locks, Sara "Bob" Prideaux struggled with "something that we didn't see coming," she said. "We had no idea."

The 16-year-old took her own life last summer. Doss is finding healing in offering hope to other parents through a foundation she started in Sara's honor, called Speak Up. Doss said, "There's so much stigma around suicide and that type of loss that I wanted to make a difference."

Doss also hoped to make a difference in a unique way, something she said would match her daughter's personality.

"She was quirky, she had a sassy side," Doss said.

Her mother said no one knew Sara as "Sara;" everyone called her "Bob." That's why Doss entered the zoo's penguin-naming contest, hoping for the chance to name one of her daughter's favorite animals.

"We would come here and visit the penguins all the time. I was sure she was going to be a penguin keeper when she grew up," Doss said.

More than 1,300 votes came in after people learned about Sara's story and Doss won the chance to name a female penguin "Bob."

"I can come and bring my family and friends in to come and see Bob, and it's part of healing," she explained. "It's part of providing hope where parents who lose their kids to suicide, it's hard to see hope."

Since losing her daughter, Allie Doss has become a suicide prevention activist, offering support and spreading awareness in the Kansas City community.

You can visit Allie Doss's website to learn more about the Speak Up Foundation.