Family and friends remember Aniah Blanchard 1 year after kidnapping, death

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HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s been one year since 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard was abducted in Auburn and later found dead in the woods outside Shorter.

Family, friends, and other members of the community gathered at Patriot Park Friday night with blue balloons and candles.

A park bench has a plaque that reads “In Loving Memory of Aniah Haley Blanchard, Friends and Community.”

Angela Harris, Aniah’s mother, said her daughter had the biggest heart.

“She was just a beautiful light and loved life,” Harris said.

Friends spoke during the vigil, remembering all of the good times.

“Every single day that I saw her, which was weekdays, it was just always happiness,” a family friend said.

But there were moments everyone was at a loss of words.

Harris said she thinks of Aniah every day.

“And I miss her so bad that I don’t even know how I can live without her,” Harris said.

She said the best way she and the rest of the community can honor her daughter is fighting for others.

“We have got to do something in her honor and her memory,” Harris said.

Through all the tears and fond memories, Friday night wasn’t just about Aniah; it’s about ensuring what happened to her doesn’t happen again.

“For the rest of my life, I will be trying to help change the world,” she said.

And Harris is ready for that fight.

“I promise her that I will do everything I can to make sure that she can live through me and accomplish everything she was going to in her life and more,” she said.

Aniah’s Heart, the non-profit organization created from this tragedy, helps teach men, women, and children self defense to ensure people are prepared for certain situations.


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