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Laken Riley laid to rest in hometown of Woodstock

Family and friends gathered Friday to honor nursing student Laken Riley in Woodstock.

Riley, a 22-year-old from Woodstock, was murdered Feb. 22 when out for a run on the University of Georgia campus.

Riley was a 2020 graduate of River Ridge High School, where she was on the school’s track team. She attended UGA before transferring to the Augusta University College of Nursing campus in Athens.

According to her obituary by Poole Funeral Home, Riley was an active member of Woodstock City Church, and even after transferring to Augusta University, she remained active with her UGA sorority, Alpha Chi Omega.

The family received friends at visitation from noon to 2 p.m. Friday at Woodstock City Church, followed by a funeral service that officiated by Pastor Samer Massad.

After the service, a short procession traveled to Enon Cemetery, where Riley was laid to rest.

The services were private.

“When the world loses someone like Laken, whose light consistently shined so bright, it seems that much darker in their absence,” Massad said in a statement. “Laken was special. She was a gift to anyone who knew her. Smart, kind, compassionate, and thoughtful don’t even begin to scratch the surface.”

Massad described Riley as a loving daughter, sister, and friend.

"She had a gift for making anyone she was around feel comfortable and seen,” he said. “But the most special thing about Laken was her faith in Jesus. She didn’t just believe it, she lived it. And because of her faith, as hard as days like today are, we grieve her loss and celebrate her life with the hope that she is now in the presence of Jesus, her Savior. We will miss her dearly. Laken’s family is family to us, and as their church family, we here at Woodstock City Church are committed to walking alongside them and carrying this burden with them. To John, Allyson, and Lauren — we love you all so very much, and we are with you.”

In addition to her parents, Riley is survived by a stepfather and three siblings.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to a GoFundMe fundraiser, which will be used to start the Laken Hope Riley Foundation.

The purpose of the foundation will be to drive homicide awareness and safety for women.

In a message on the fundraising page, the family expressed thanks to the community for their donations and support.

“Laken was an amazing daughter, sister, friend and overall person in general. Her love for the Lord was exemplified in every aspect of her life,” John Phillips wrote. “She will be missed every day, but we promise to honor her life moving forward in a very big way.”

As of Friday, the GoFundMe had raised over $178,000; to donate, visit https://gofund.me/7d61b636.

 

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