Friends and family honor Mackenzie Lueck at prayer vigil

Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (KSL TV) – Monday’s event was originally organized to be a prayer vigil for people to come together and pray for Mackenzie’s safe return. However, following the news on Friday that her remains had been found, it turned into a chance to honor Mackenzie’s short life.

It’s never easy to say goodbye.

“This feels like a nightmare that I can’t wake up from but unfortunately it’s reality,” said Katie from the podium as she addressed hundred attending Monday night’s vigil.

Katie was just one of several close friends of Mackenzie who spoke, each sharing their raw emotions.

Courtesy KSL TV

“I can’t even voice how angry I am with the suspect for how he took my best friend away from me, her family and her sisters,” Kennedy, another friend said.

With any words of bitterness, also came moments of beauty – tiny glimpses in the University of Utah senior’s life.

“She always knew how to make you feel loved,” Kennedy said. “She always knew the right words to say.”

In the moments where there were no words to say, those in attendance were given the opportunity to write notes of support to Mackenzie’s family.

Some of those in attendance came from far away. A woman held a sign reading “El Segundo loves Mackenzie,” – a nod to Mackenzie’s hometown.

Others only met Mackenzie once or twice. One of the most poignant moments of the evening came when members of the community lined up to hug and shake the hands of Salt Lake City police officers in attendance; officers still struggling with the outcome of events.

“I think the best healing for (the officers) is when they go home and put their arms around their loved ones and embrace them and hold onto what matters most in life,” Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said.

And though the sun beamed down on the campus square and brought brilliant glimpses of light, those who loved Mackenzie said it will never compare to the light she carried within her.

“I’ll always rememner how fun she was to be around,” Kennedy said. “She had a way of making you feel special. She loved helping people and she always had a smile on her face.”

On Monday, her friends announced the creation of a non-profit in Mackenzie’s name called, “Mackenzie’s Voice”. They say will provide support for victims of domestic violence and their families in the future.

This article was originally published by fellow CNN affiliate KSL TV. It is used here with permission.

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