Five years later, Boulder murder victim Aaron Tuneberg‘s legacy lives on through foundation

Aaron Tuneberg Memorial Fund

Proceeds will be used to support people living with disabilities in the community. For more information about the fund or to donate, visit .

It‘s been five years since Aaron Tuneberg was fatally assaulted at his Boulder apartment, killed at the age of 30 over his bike and Xbox.

“I miss him terribly,” Tuneberg‘s mother Gale Boonstra said. “Sarah (Tuneberg‘s sister) had another child named Rhys Aaron. He‘ll never know his uncle.”

But while five years have done little to ease the pain of losing her son, the years have allowed Boonstra to make an impact in his name. Shortly after he died, Boonstra to raise money to help other people dealing with disabilities. All these years later, the fund is still going strong and Boonstra continues to look for ways it can help other people like her son.

“I feel like I‘m doing what I promised myself,” Boonstra said, “which is trying to make a difference for people in his community.”

The fund has helped pay to to help people with disabilities lead safe but independent lives. It was used to start a program at Community Cycles to help , a program Boonstra hopes will expand .

And now, Boonstra has found her next new project. She was at a demo day for her daughter Sarah‘s company when she happened across created by that gradually teaches basic tasks using therapy-approved methods.

“I‘m just so in love with the product,” Boonstra said. “Aaron would have loved it. As kids get older that have these problems, they hate for parents to nag them. This is just a much more neutral kind of task reminder.”

Boonstra is hoping to partner with the Autism Society of Colorado and Goally to use money from the Tuneberg Foundation to pay the subscription costs of the device for families who can‘t afford it.

“Gale is a pretty inspirational lady,” co-found Daragh Brangan said. “We ultimately started the company because one of our founders has a child of his own with a disability. We want to help as many parents as we can, and Gale is going to help us with that.”

Added Boonstra, “My intention is to help them be more successful by broadening their reach and help families by giving them this technology.”

But even as she embarks on her latest project with the foundation, Boonstra has also continued her lobbying efforts at the Colorado Legislature for more funding to help people with disabilities, especially with a new governor and many new legislators.

Boonstra said many state Medicaid waivers to get access to services for disabled people have long wait lists. Tuneberg himself was on that waitlist on March 31, 2014, when two men, Austin Holford and Luke Pelham, robbed and beat Tuneberg at the Boulder apartment he had just moved into on his own.

Tuneberg died on April 8, and Holford, 23, and Pelham, 23, both pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and were sentenced to prison.

Boonstra can only wonder what would have happened if her son had access to more technology and resources that could have made him safer in his own home. But she is hoping that, through the foundation and her lobbying, she can save someone else.

“I‘m trying to take our tragedy and Aaron‘s story and raise awareness,” Boonstra said. “I‘d like to take that story and see if it‘s meaningful to these legislators.

“I feel like I‘m doing what I can, and that‘s the best I can do.”