Untold Impact: The enduring life of Marisa Bocanegra

A mini documentary: Marisa's reunion with her birth family ended in tragedy. But her legacy, through her remarkable willingness to help others, lives on.

Marisa Bocanegra waited 39 years to meet her birth family. She'd been abducted from her mother's arms as an infant, and adopted by an unwitting family in Minnesota.

After years of searching, she found her biological mother and siblings.

They got just 19 days together before a tragic turn of events ripped them apart once again.

In Untold Impact: The enduring life of Marisa Bocanegra, we revisit the family, her friends and loved ones in the year after her passing. (Note: A version with closed captioning can be viewed on YouTube here.)

They recount what made her a beloved figure in Minnesota; her boundless determination to help other people, the warmth that allowed others to instantly connect with her, and her immeasurable love for her family.

Marisa Bocanegra.

Marisa Bocanegra.

Marisa's birth mother, Elsy Teuta, along with brother Juan Pablo, have returned to their home country of Colombia. But they spent weeks in Minnesota after Marisa's death, meeting with those lives she touched forever.

"Her breath, her image, I see it everywhere," Elsy said.

And those people she worked and volunteered with feel an absence too. Marisa helped search for missing persons through United Legacy, served as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence that are deaf or hard of hearing, volunteered with an equine therapy program, and more.

The impact she made on those who she crossed paths with, you can see it in the way they talk about her; what she meant to them, the effort she put in to caring for others.

"If she sees people who need help, she's there," said Jeanie Michelizzi, the executive director of Rideability. "If she sees people who need comfort, she's there faster." 

To learn about Marisa's journey – her abduction and adoption, the search for her mother and family in Colombia, the emotional reunion, and the heartbreaking end – you can read and watch our previous coverage:

The Abduction of Ana Maria: A 4-part video series

'This is my journey. This is who I am.': Ana Maria's search for her mother – and the truth

Video: 39 years after being abducted, Ana Maria meets her mom for the first time

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