BERTHOUD, Colo. — The dining room table inside the home of Teri Leiker’s mom is lined with pictures, medals and ribbons all marking the accomplishments of Leiker, who died that terrible day in Boulder.
Margie, a lifelong Coloradan now living in Berthoud, spoke through tears and smiles reminiscing about her only daughter, who was born in 1969 and was active in Special Olympics from the time she was a little girl. Track and field and softball were Teri’s favorites.
“She had trouble with time and money… abstract thinking was hard for her, and sometimes she knew what she wanted to say but she couldn’t get it out exactly straight," Margie said.
Life as a child wasn’t easy for Leiker.
“She overcame a lot. She was teased a lot at school. Some kids did some real mean things to her," Margie said. "She got through it and kept on going.”
Her mom beams when she talks about Leiker and the pride she took in her job at King Soopers in Boulder, where she worked as a courtesy clerk since the age of 21. Because of Leiker’s years with the company, Margie just found out the grocery store chain is now giving its 30 year employees the “Teri Leiker Anniversary Ring” in her daughter’s honor.
“So how special is that, forever? It’s just unbelievable,” Margie said.
The beautiful diamond ring with the number 30 sits on her table, along with Teri’s employee ID badge.
Margie says right now, she has good and bad days.
“I was really good yesterday. I was good last night because I was looking at her pictures; looking at her pictures made me happy to see her face," Margie said. "Some days, I'm not good at all because it doesn't seem real.”
Leiker used to call her mom when she got home from her shift at the store to let her know she was safe.
That day, Leiker just got back from vacation, and she was a half hour away from being off work. That’s when Margie got a phone call.
“Clint, who works with her and lives with her, he was in the parking lot doing buggies, and he saw the shooter," Margie said. "He ran to Abo’s... And he called and said, 'Margie, there is a shooting at the store, and I can’t find Teri.'”
That’s when Margie went to the store and was told to go to the CU Events Center where she waited. And waited.
“All those families, we all knew. Lynn Murray’s family was sitting next to me, and they were so sweet. They kind of took me in, and I kind of became part of their family," Margie said.
There were very few people there, so we knew. We were the ones," she said. “To me, it really isn’t true. I know it is, but in my mind, I think it really isn't true.”
What Margie wants the world to focus on now is the good in Leiker, who was proud about graduating from Longmont High School and getting a job at King Soopers at 21. She loved her brother Kevin. She loved animals and her CU Buffs. Leiker was so compassionate she would cry over last year’s Colorado fires wanting to send money to help.
“That’s why we thought she probably couldn’t haven gotten through surviving, especially at the front of the store. She would have seen all of it. So yeah, maybe you could count it as a blessing, but no,“ Margie said.
Since her passing, Leiker's mom has learned so many people loved Leiker right back — so many customers and so many friends Margie didn’t even know.
“People have just been so good. So, you think a bad guy did this — well yes, he is an evil person — however, most people are good, and that’s what we have to keep thinking,” Margie said.
And now, as this mom makes plans for a funeral, she says her family, friends and faith will get her through. She does take comfort in knowing her daughter was happy that morning of March 22, 2021.
“No matter who you are, no matter if you have a disability, you can make a life of happiness for yourself. You just have to want to do it.”
No one proved it better than Teri Leiker.
As of Wednesday, funeral arrangements are tentatively set for April 9 on the CU campus, with location and time to be determined. The family says the public is invited.