DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Friends and family of a teen who died during a summer dance workout at school last week gathered for a candlelight vigil in her honor Saturday night.
Elyse Purefoy, a rising senior at Arabia Mountain High School, died Monday. The 17-year-old was a member of the school's dance team and was participating in summer training when she passed out while running on the school's track.
Channel 2's Michael Seiden was in Stone Mountain at the DeKalb Academy of Technology and Environment (D.A.T.E.), where Purefoy's brother and youngest sister comforted their grieving mother as she broke down in tears at the vigil.
The standout dancer and honor roll student graduated from D.A.T.E. before going to Arabia Mountain, where she recently earned a spot on its prestigious dance team.
At the vigil, her friends and sister, Elona, performed a moving tribute in Purefoy's honor.
The evening ended with heartfelt messages from people who knew her best.
"“She was loved, but she also gave love back, so I want you to continue to pray for the family and keep holding them up," Maury Wills.
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People came from as far away as California to remember the teen.
Seiden spoke with Purefoy's former teacher and principal, Chad Owes, who flew more than 2,000 miles to be at the vigil.
“It was pretty devastating when I found out because I’ve known her since she was a little girl and to have her younger siblings, definitely heartbreaking," Owes said.
Purefoy's mother, Kimberly, also got emotional as she spoke about her daughter.
"I'm not here to claim Elyse was perfect," she said. "But I never heard her say one word to harm anybody with her mouth."
Earlier Saturday, Purefoy's co-workers at a Lithonia Zaxby's released balloons for the teen.
Purefoy's cause of death has still not been determined.
A celebration of life service will be held Monday with a viewing starting at 11 a.m. and a service at 12 p.m. at Saint Philip AME Church.
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