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Jeanni Ritchie

Apr 1, 2024


Lauren Vaughn was a beloved member of the Central Louisiana community. I had never met her; I was, in fact, living almost 300 miles away.

But her death in 2023 was all I read about for days.

Her life had positively impacted almost everyone on my Facebook feed, young and old. They were in disbelief over a life cut way too short. I grieved with them as if I’d known her too. I wasn’t the only one.

Jennifer McWaters of Pineville didn’t know Lauren personally either but she showed up in full runner’s gear to support the family in the community she calls home. “To see this many show up is inspiring.”

Lauren’s legacy lives on as over 800 people showed up at the Memorial Run/Walk held at Alexandria Senior High on Saturday, March 30, to honor her memory and highlight the dangers of drunk and impaired driving.

Community members, friends, and family showed up, including her great-uncle Blake Newton who was serving up delicious homemade beignets for all.

Members from the Vaughn’s Calvary Sunday School class were serving pancakes and bacon. There were tents set up supporting racers and providing resources while more than 50 business sponsors and individuals contributed to make this event a success.

Lauren’s family created a scholarship to benefit a Northwestern State University student pursuing a nursing degree through an accelerated program. While the Sigma Theta Tau member excelled in her chosen profession, she never lost sight of her top priorities: faith and family.

This is exactly why Jonathon Castillo, Pitkin, brought his family to the Run. When I asked them why they had come, Castillo’s answer was simple. “Faith, family, and community.”

Lauren would’ve loved the sentiment.

Find more stories and photos from the event at #LV5K

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