In the course of her too-brief life, Lauren McCluskey’s impact rippled through her family, her friends and her community.
Dozens of community and family members came together Wednesday evening to honor the life of McCluskey, a Pullman High School graduate and senior track athlete at the University of Utah who police say was killed by a former boyfriend earlier this week.
The site of the vigil, held at the school’s track and field facility, was chosen because it was where she developed her skills and passion, organizer Patti Green-Kent said. Green-Kent met McCluskey through track and also helped organize the vigil.
“(The vigil) was what everybody had hoped for,” Green-Kent said. “People wanted to physically be together in this space.”
As people trickled onto the field, they stood in line to write their thoughts in a decorated book with a photo of McCluskey on the cover.
Steve Van Kuiken, a Pullman minister, opened up the service at sunset, the light illuminating glowsticks held by those gathered.
“Her family is gathered at another vigil this very moment right now … at the University of Utah,” Kuiken said. “We are standing with them at this very moment in solidarity.”
Chris Vogel attended the vigil and shared a few words. He began coaching McCluskey while she was in eighth grade, and continued to do so all the way through high school.
“She had a work ethic that was completely uncommon, even as an athlete,” Vogel said.
“It’s that quiet grace that has really affected the people here. She was a model to me as a person,” he said.
Longtime family friend Ron Mittelhammer knew McCluskey since she was a toddler, he said. Their families spent many special moments together, including birthdays and trips.
“Lauren is the most gentle, pure, innocent, caring soul you’d ever met. Straightforward and honest,” Mittelhammer said. “Wherever she ended up, the community would be benefiting from her presence.”
Desiree Gould, McCluskey’s family’s neighbor and an assistant principal at the high school, helped organize the vigil, and said she remembers McCluskey as a giver and someone who always had a smile on her face.
“She was a balance of talented, kind, gentle person,” Gould said.
The service ended with a communal walk around the track to honor McCluskey. Attendees grasped their glow sticks to light up the night. A few people even sprinted their way around.
Another vigil is scheduled at 6 p.m. Nov. 1, to be held by her classmates at the same location.
“The world just lost a fantastic human being with a bright future,” Vogel said. “There’s a piece that was torn out of our souls that will never get filled.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.