All grown up are (L-R) Katie Schenkel, Christopher Schenkel, KC Grondin, Natalie Town, Bret Schenkel and Kyle Grondin.
March 02, 2016DRYDEN — When Natalie Town thinks of her cousin KC Grondin, she thinks of the love, laughter and good times that defined their relationship.
Today, she wants to remind KC—and the world—that those are still the traits that define him, even in the wake of his October, 2015 conviction for the 2011 shooting death of Andrea Eilber, who was 20-years-old at the time. Earlier this month, Lapeer County Circuit Court Judge Nick Holowka sentenced KC to life in prison.
To show support for her cousin, who she is convinced is innocent, Natalie has written a song especially for KC, one that she calls 'Defined.'
"I don't want to see you looking down, on who you think you've become," Natalie says in the song's opening line. Along with other Grondin family members and supporters, Natalie insists that KC is innocent, and has vowed to pursue justice for the victim and for KC through as far as they can take it. They've created a website to raise awareness for their cause www.justice4kc.com, where 'Defined' is posted, as well as a YouTube channel featuring Natalie's song and information about the case. Natalie, an aspiring singer/songwriter, produced the song in Los Angeles, where she is working as an intern in the entertainment news industry.
"I grew up singing and writing songs so I thought that this would be a wonderful way to spread awareness," Natalie says. "My heart really ached for my family and for KC and I knew there had to be something, even if it was small, that I could do personally."
Mostly, though, Natalie wanted her cousin to realize that she knows who he is.
"Most of all, I did not want KC to feel like he was something or someone that he wasn't," she says.
She hopes when people listen to the song, they will see things they way the Grondins do—that KC has been wrongfully convicted, as have many others in the justice system.
"Our goal is prove that he is innocent," Natalie says. "Other than that, going through this has made us aware of how often this happens to innocent people and it is so sad and so scary."
Grondin kids during happier times are KC Grondin (far right and continued counter clockwise) Bret Schenkel (cousin), Kyle Grondin (brother), Natalie Town (cousin), and Katie Schenkel (cousin).
She hopes that the song will help spread KC's story, and in so doing, gain more supporters.
"We are very lucky in the sense that this such a large part of entertainment these days, so people are really aware of this sort of thing going on in our world and they're more likely to support us now," Natalie says. "I want this story to get so big that there is no way it can be looked past and once he is free, he will not walk out of prison feeling like the world is against him."
Natalie says KC's ordeal has been tough on the entire family—and their hearts break for the victim's family, too.
"I am so blessed to be part of the Grondin family," she says. "To some people, our relationship is weird, but to us, it's just normal. I love KC more than anything in the world and for people to tell us to let it go? No way."
She says the family is well aware that not everyone has empathy for their plight, adding that they've received "horrible hate" regarding the case.
"We have been told that we need to stop crying
and to that I say, just for the record, we are not 'crying,' we are fighting for what we believe in and for what is right," Natalie says. "We are a family—no matter how big or how small, how rich or how poor—family is family and we must support and fight for each other in times of need and sorrow.
"We believe in KC's innocence," she continues. "We do not expect or need everyone's agreement or approval. We will not ask for your empathy, so please do not ask us to "stop crying" because we won't. KC is innocent and I want my cousin to be home again."
Natalie Town's 'Defined' music video she wrote and created for her cousin KC Grondin.
Natalie graduated from Dryden High School in 2011. She is currently studying at Central Michigan University and taking part in an internship in the entertainment news industry in Los Angeles, California. Her long term goal is to make a living as a singer/songwriter.
You can listen to and see Natalie Town's music video 'Defined'-#Justice4KC at www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTSVqEnuV1M and read more about the case at www.justice4KC.com.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.