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Friends and family of Lauren Vaughn came together to celebrate her memory at a charity 5K in Alexandria.

Mary Margaret Ellison

Apr 2, 2024

The bond around Lauren Vaughn: Family & friends share her story

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Easter weekend is when millions of families gather to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

The lives of one family were forever changed on Good Friday of last year, in a way which altered their perspective forever.

Lauren Vaughn, ‘LV’ for short, had a village of family and friends.

“It was always so chaotic, but yet, so comforting all of the time,” said Vaughn’s college roommate, Sarah VanEtta, about living life with Lauren.

Vaughn had groups of friends all over the state -- whether it was her softball teammates from high school, college friends, roommates or nursing friends.

“That is what she was good at bringing be together,” said Vaughn’s college friend Gabby Rachal. “Anytime we had a group ‘LV’ was there. She was that all around, well-rounded great friend. She did not meet a stranger.”

“Whether you were their friend or not you would end up being their friend because ‘LV’ always had different people from different friend groups together,” said Peyton Williams, Vaughn’s college friend.

Vaughn was a part of the 2016 State Championship softball team at Alexandria Senior High School, and an aspiring nurse.

“I feel like Lauren made nursing so much fun,” said Jalyn Robertson, Vaughn’s friend from nursing school. “Anything we did, first of all, Lauren was probably the best at it.”

”One thing I would always look forward to with Lauren was before any exam we would always meet up at school early and go over flash cards,” said Tie Morgan, Lauren’s nursing friend. “We would just be reading stuff off, and I was like how do you still know this stuff?”

LV was a light that shined bright, a smile that could light up a room and a laugh that was contagious.

“She was hilarious,” said Ella Manzer, Vaughn’s high school teammate. “She was sarcastic but it was so funny. She could joke all day.”

When asked what Lauren was like, Rachal said, “She liked her music very loud and her jokes with a lot of sarcasm, that was her thing.”

After graduating from ASH, Vaughn attended Louisiana Tech, where she met a few of her lifelong friends that just so happened to live with her.

“We always had so much fun,” said Lauren’s college roommate Olivia Miller. “We would do movie nights, watch tv shows together. She was just the best.”

“She is just somebody you are attracted to, that you want to gravitate towards and be around,” said Megan Hausmann, Lauren’s friend from nursing school.

Lauren was known for her bubbly personality and that classic eye-roll that would have everyone else laughing.

“She was not afraid of anything,” said Ashley Welch, Vaughn’s high school teammate. “She would always speak her mind, she stood up for what she believed in no matter who it offended or whose feelings got hurt. Lauren was going to say what she believed and that is what I love most about her.”

In 2023, a little over 30-percent of traffic accidents in Louisiana were caused by drunk drivers, and on Good Friday, April 7th of 2023, Lauren’s mom, Bridget, received a phone call that would change her life forever.

“We always gathered at my dad’s side of the family with my aunts and uncles and all my cousins,” said Lauren’s mom, Bridget Vaughn. “That is exactly what we did almost a year ago on this Good Friday, and we were together. When Lauren decided to leave our gathering, she went with a cousin who she truly, truly loved, and they went to go hang out for a little bit. About twenty minutes later, I went to his house to pick her up, and she was like ‘Mom, I am not quite ready to go home yet.’ I said, ‘Okay, Lauren. We are going to come back and get you.”

“The two texts I sent her said, ‘Hey, We are going to have to meet later.’ Then, I said, ‘Nevermind, they are drinking. We will come back and get you. Do not get in the truck.’ I called her brother and said, ‘You and I will have to drive back to Bunkie,’ but we never got that opportunity because by the time I drove home 45 minutes later, we got a phone call saying she was dead.”

Vaughn was 22-years old, when her life was taken so quick but her presence will never fade.

On Silent Saturday, March 30th, over 800 of Lauren’s family members, friends, former teammates, roommates and members of the Alexandria community put on their running shoes to honor her life at the first Lauren Vaughn Memorial 5K.

When asked what Lauren would do if she heard about the 5K, her mother said, “Oh, she would definitely be giving me the biggest eye roll right now, totally, because she did not like people to make a big deal. She was definitely behind the scenes. If you look, if she is in a big group, she is normally near the back. She was not the attention seeker.”

While running the 5K, Lauren’s friends couldn’t help but laugh while thinking about what Lauren would have said.

“I think she would think this is crazy that we are running for her because she would not be running,” said Briahna Bennet, Lauren’s high school teammate.

“She would definitely be laughing at us and know how hard this is,” said Lauren’s high school teammate, Caroline Manzer.

“When I was running with my mom, she was laughing,” said VanEtta and Miller. “No, quite literally, she was definitely laughing and making jokes, but I feel like she is holding our hand throughout this whole journey. I think she is just smiling down on us.”

Vaughn will always be a Lady Trojan. Her softball jersey was retired and a memorial sign was unveiled right outside the entrance of the field.

“She was very important in everyone’s lives, and there is a piece missing that cannot be filled,” said Ella Manzer. “This is just something we can do to help fill that void, and something we get to see every time we pass. She very much missed, and I wish we could have her back.”

“I feel like the whole day was special, and she was with us throughout the whole day,” said Bennett.

There is a sense of love and healing for the Vaughn family and their friends in every sunrise, sunset and beautiful butterfly that graces the sky.

Proceeds from the event were donated to the Lauren Vaughn Memorial Scholarship for the Accelerated BS to BSN program, which will benefit future nurses, just like Lauren.

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