BOULDER, Colo. — Rikki Olds was vibrant. She was bubbly. She was a kindhearted young woman determined to rise in the ranks of her job, but would still enjoy a dance break with her colleagues.
"Rikki was truly special to us," her uncle, Robert Olds, said Wednesday morning. "Rikki was... the light of our family."
Two days after a shooting that rocked the Boulder community and beyond, Rikki's family shared pieces of her life with the public. Robert Olds spoke on behalf of the family.
Rikki, just 25, was working as a service manager at a King Soopers in Boulder on Monday when a gunman opened fire, killing her and nine others.
"There's a hole in our family that won't be filled," Robert said. "You try to fill it with memories. You know, that’s tough. It’s tough."
Rikki was born on July 28, 1995 in Lafayette and graduated from Centaurus High School in 2013. She took classes at Front Range Community College.
She lived life on her own terms, and her family never knew what color hair she'd have or what new tattoos she'd show when she came to visit, Robert said. She was a "strong, independent young woman," he said.
They'd joke around often and she would sometimes laugh so hard she'd snort, he said with a smile.
He looked up at the ceiling.
"She’s probably going to throw something at me or something for telling you guys that," he said. "I will really miss her and that personality of hers."
Rikki loved the outdoors, camping, golf, hiking and softball.
He said she never got to experience much of life — marriage, motherhood — that many others get to cherish.
"I'm saddened for her and I'm saddened for the other victims," Robert said.
Rikki had dreams and ambitions, and was moving up the ladder at King Soopers.
She initially wanted to become a nurse, but that plan was altered, and she was pursuing a new dream of becoming a store manager at King Soopers, Robert said. She loved customer service and helping people.
He said his favorite memory of Rikki was when she was toddler and she'd call him "Uncle Bob Bob." When they were traveling for baseball tournaments at the time, Rikki would ask, "Uncle Bob Bob — Donald’s today?" which was an ask to go to McDonald's, Robert said.
"For some reason, that memory just keeps popping in my head. I don't know. Maybe it's because of the pure innocence," he said.
Her younger brother is struggling with her loss, and Robert asked that the public keep him in their thoughts and prayers. The time the two siblings spent together was "cherished" because they both dealt with trauma and had a close bond because of that. That experience molded Rikki into a nurturing person, he said.
Robert's parents — Rikki's grandparents — essentially raised her, he said. When Robert's father passed away six years ago, Robert stepped into the father figure role a bit more for Rikki, he said. Now, his mother feels like she lost a daughter, he said.
However, he said he feels that his family is receiving the support they need as they navigate the difficult challenges ahead. It is overwhelming to see how many lives she touched, he said, and her family wants to keep her memory alive in some way. It's just very early in that process, he said.
"Definitely something," he said. "That's going to be something my family has to decide. But definitely something. What that is, I don't even know yet."
He recalled his last words to Rikki were "See ya, Thursday." She had plans to meet with family that day to celebrate her grandmother's birthday, Robert said.
Carlee Lough, who worked alongside Rikki at King Soopers and coached basketball with Robert, also spoke at the press conference Wednesday morning.
Lough said Rikki was always ready to help better a bad day. She was nicknamed Wendy at work because she'd wear braids in her hair often, Lough said.
"If you needed a pick-me-up, you knew where to go," she said.
The past year was difficult amid COVID-19, but Rikki was level-headed and helpful with customer complaints, she said.
Lough said she first heard that Rikki was involved in the shooting later in the day Monday. Lough had also been at work that day, but left early.
"It’s very hard," she said. "It’s just difficult in general for any of us that worked there or for any of those families. It’s something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life."
Robert said the best way he knows to deal with the loss is to honor Rikki and help his family.
This story was originally published by Stephanie Butzer at KMGH.