Friends, family of murdered designer focus efforts on Wendy's Kitty Fund in her honor

TAMPA, Fla. - Wendy Albano loved beautiful things. An interior designer by trade, her clients included the rich and famous, like New York Yankee Derek Jeter and former player Tino Martinez.

She also loved cats.     

Close friend, Donna Turner, wanted to honor her friend and do it through her passion for kitties. Her idea brought to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.

"I thought she would love for us to help the cats. I called her mother to tell her and she said we will call it Wendy's Kitty Fund! And that is how it was born," said Turner.

Turner, called Wendy's daughters. 20 year old Lauren and 25 year old Jenny who toured a new clinic being built in Hillsborough County. With the help of their mother's friends, the girls want a feral cat patio named in their mother's honor.

Together, they have organized fundraisers for Wendy's Kitty Fund. And it's just the beginning, several more are planned.

"My mother's friends are fantastic," said Jenny Albano.

"It blows our mind. It's just amazing to think there are so many people out there who really care about her and want to help her or help her family. And do something that is a really good cause in memory and dedication to her," Lauren Albano said.

It's quite a commitment. Wendy's daughters and friends want to raise $100,000.

They have set goal of raising the money in four years. The money would help the clinic in it's successful program of  vaccinating, spaying and neutering feral cats.

"Wendy was a big supporter of that and so it is only fitting the new patio be named for her and allow her legacy to live on in that way,"  said Nash McCutchen with the Humane Society.

McCutchen never met Wendy but feels she knows her. Many have told her about Wendy's tragic death.

She was found murdered back in February.

Police have a suspect, caught on surveillance cameras leaving her hotel room.

But authorities said immigration records indicate he boarded a flight three hours later to his native India.

Despite pressure from local politicians like United States Senator Bill Nelson, there have been no new leads.

"She might have died at 51 but she lived a hundred years," said Turner.

Turner and Wendy's family hold on to hope the perpetrator will be caught. But their attention is on this new patio. They feel Wendy would think that is more important.

"I think if we raise a 100,000 dollars for the Humane Society that it is just as good," said Turner.

Wendy's daughters also think so. And McCutchen said their strength is a reflection of how their mother raised them.

"I mean this gift they are giving to us will touch animals for years and years to come.

So we are really really proud of them and grateful they chose us to be the beneficiaries of their work," McCutchen said.

If you would like more information on how you can help, you can head to wendyskittyfund.com

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