COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — On Jan. 27, 2020, 11-year-old Gannon Stauch disappeared from his home in Lorson Ranch. His disappearance sparked a search that would last for many weeks and covered the neighborhood in the color blue before it was learned Gannon was not coming home.
His stepmother is accused of murdering him and was arrested in early March.
READ MORE: The Gannon Stauch case
One year after that day, Al Stauch, Gannon's father, sat down for an interview in honor of his son.
"It's hard to imagine the day," he said. "I was out at some training in Oklahoma, and then I got the call, which at the time we thought, you know, he was just a runaway, or he was missing, or at a friend's house," he recalled from Jan. 27, 2020.
Stauch said his son was full of love, and his family and friends meant the world to him.
"What I always told both of them was it's the people that matter in our lives, and he really embodied that," Stauch said.
Over the course of a year, Stauch said the family has had too many firsts they never wanted.
"His birthday was in September," he said. "The holidays were tough. Spent some time with a dear family and watching their kids open presents — that kind of made it real. You just, you realize those times are coming, and you just meet them head-on and you just get through it. It's OK to not be OK in those moments."
When asked what he'd tell his son if he could, Stauch said he doesn't live for the epic moments, because the little things are what makes life truly special.
"It would be the same thing I told him every day: I love you. Don't get off the bus without your sister. Take care of your sister, and look out for her. Have fun. Take out the trash. You know, those are the things that I miss," he said.
Stauch said he perseveres with the help of his family and faith.
"It would have been so easy to lay down and just let this overtake us, but we're still here and still going," Stauch said.
He said he found another massive source of strength from his daughter Laina, Gannon's sister.
"My whole world has been about her and making sure she's able to make it through this," Stauch said.
From the moment Gannon was reported missing, the community rallied around the Stauch family to try and help however they could.
"I haven't been public for a lot of reasons, and I don't really want to be, but I think the community needs to hear how much I appreciate them. ... How this community has reacted, in the initial days, in the aftermath, in this whole year, is just special," he said.
For many residents in Lorson Ranch, like Tauni Combs, the year has flown by.
"It doesn't seem like it's been that long," Combs said.
When Gannon first disappeared, neighbors put blue lights — his favorite color — outside of their homes.
"The blue lights initially signified a way for Gannon to find his way home. ... At a year later, these blue lights for all of us, I think, are a way to remember him, to let him and his family know he's not forgotten. He's always important to us," said Monica Denny, who lives in Lorson Ranch.
In honor of Gannon, neighbors in Lorson Ranch are asking for residents to light up their homes blue on the evening of Jan. 27, 2021. They say they hope this movement spreads beyond their neighborhood.
They encourage anyone else who puts up blue lights or decorations to post a picture of it on the Colorado Springs Events and Fun public Facebook page.
Restoration Church released a statement from Gannon's father: