NORTH OGDEN -- Dale and Julie Anderson vowed to fight much more than a law.
The couple fought for their deceased granddaughter Aubree Jo Anderson, who they were determined to not let be just a memory or a statistic.
Now, after working hard to help make two major changes -- one to a Utah custody law and the another the help dash the appointment of a judge -- the pair feels as if Aubree Jo's three-year life will mean something to many other children, parents and grandparents.
In 2011, Aubree Jo Anderson was killed in a single-car crash. Her mother, Brandi Stilke, was driving with marijuana and Oxycontin in her system when she crashed. Stilke was sent to prison.
Six months prior to Aubree Jo's death, Ogden 2nd District Court Commissioner Catherine Conklin granted joint custody of the girl to Stilke and the Andersons' son, Jared Anderson.
Dale and Julie believe had the custody they were seeking solely for their son been granted by Conklin, their granddaughter would be alive today. Both feel that Conklin was their last line of defense in making sure Aubree Jo was safe, and she failed them.
That's why in August, when they read that Conklin was up for appointment to take retiring Judge Michael Lyons' spot on the 2nd District Court, the Andersons decided her appointment wouldn't happen without their story being told to every person that would have a say in that decision.
This isn't the first time the couple has worked to make changes in their granddaughter's name. In 2012 the Andersons worked with Representative Ryan Wilcox on HB 88. It helped change the process judges use when making decisions on custody, to not look at gender before making the decision.
The Andersons fondly remember the battle they faced at the time, and the help they received by some lawmakers.
"We knew nothing about it. It was all new to us," Julie said.
"We were like tourists," Dale said.
The pair said Monday the remember being quickly brought up to speed by lawmakers and lobbyists about how things worked. They said that knowledge helped them make connections to testify against Conklin's appointment. The learned that there was a 30-day window to file information and be heard in the hearing, prior to any appointment.
They readily took that opportunity.
"It wasn't cheap. It was $250. But it was worth every penny," Julie said, adding that it also took an emotional toll. "It was harder to do then when we went to the Senate. It opened old wounds that had started to heal."
On Oct. 14, Julie and Dale testified at Conklin's hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Although the committee had previously approved her nomination, the Senate had to officially approve her by vote. That was scheduled to happen on Wednesday.
Prior to the vote, Julie went back to work.
On that Tuesday and Wednesday she sent individual emails to many of the 24 Senators involved in the vote. She also sent an email to the governor.
"I knew I had to tell them my story and remind them that she (Conklin) was the reason we had to have HB 88," Julie said.
In what appeared to be a last-minute decision, Conklin's name did not make it out of the Senate Republican Caucus for nomination.
"I had no idea what was going to happen," Julie said. "I firmly believe my one lone little story is not enough to change the minds of 24 senators, but my story gave it a face."
The Andersons, along with volunteer lobbyist Dan Deuel, who also testified against Conklin, said finances were also mentioned as a possible reason for Conklin not being appointed.
But for Julie and Dale, it is a victory they will take.
"At the end of it I came away saying, 'I did this,'" Julie said.
"My hat is off to them," Deuel said. Oftentimes the Senate just "rubber stamps" the judicial nominations and this time they didn't, Deuel said. "It is a big deal it didn't happen," he added.
Both Dale and Julie want Aubree Jo to be more than just a drug statistic or a memory in a box.
"We want people to know she made a difference while she was here. It's not my story. This is her story. It's her story that we're telling," Julie said through tears.