Cherokee County

EXCLUSIVE: Laken Riley’s hometown made a step toward healing with 22 for 22 fundraiser

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — Laken Riley’s hometown took a step toward healing Friday night.

Riley, 22, was a nursing student in Athens when police say Jose Ibarra, 26, murdered her while she was jogging on the University of Georgia’s campus.

Leaders of Riley’s former high school, River Ridge High School, hosted a fundraiser called 22 For 22 to raise money for the Laken Riley Foundation.

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The school’s Cross Country Coach, Mary Bisgrove, told Channel 2′s Courtney Francisco she’s been planning the event since the community lost Riley in February.

“It was such an intense tragedy, and then everyone was forced to go back into everyday life. So, it’s just a moment of reflection, and it’s just going to be something very special,” Bisgrove said before the event Friday.

People paid to run or walk 22 laps around the track where Riley was a cross-country runner. Each lap stood for one year Riley was alive.


“A level of healing is occurring for the community,” Bisgrove said.

Riley’s sister and parents helped kick off the event by taking the first lap around the track together.

Her former Principal, Todd Miller, told Channel 2 Action News that counselors are still available to help students process and cope, and he said the fundraiser has been a healthy outlet.

“Bringing the community together and giving them an opportunity to provide for a foundation, and what we hope to be a great cause that lives on for a long time,” Miller said.

Once the crowd finished the 22 laps, they took part in a luminary ceremony. People lit lamps as a sign of hope.

Coach Bisgrove said the event raised $25,000.

“There’s definitely a level of mourning. I think a lot of my energy for this has been fueled by that, but in the end, we’re working through it,” Bisgrove said.

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