A prayer vigil for Erin Keener, the Rivesville nursing student killed last fall by a hit-and-run driver, will help the community remember the woman right after what would have been her 22nd birthday as well as help fund a scholarship in her name.

The vigil will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at Palatine Park and should last one and a half to two hours, said her mother, Debbie Keener.

“I wanted to do it closer to her birthday, but I got behind,” Keener said. “I’m just wanting to keep her name in circulation and use it as a thank you to the people. It’s just kind of a little spiritual thing.”

June 4 would have been Erin Keener’s birthday, and she also would have just graduated from the West Virginia School of Nursing.

Debbie Keener noted that she is halfway toward her goal of raising $15,000 to fund a scholarship in Erin’s name that will pay for a semester of college for a fourth-year nursing student at WVU.

“I want it to go to a fourth-year nursing student because she might change her mind in the first two years,” Keener said. “So I want it to go to a fourth-year nursing student, just like Erin.”

Keener has been distributing royal blue bracelets that say, “In Memory of Erin Keener,” not unlike the yellow “LIVESTRONG” bracelets that raise money for cancer research through the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

“They have a nurse with angel wings on it,” Keener said. “We call it a ‘nurse angel.’”

People started offering donations for the bracelets, which Keener put toward the scholarship fund. So far, she has raised $7,730.

“I never dreamt that we would get so much, that first of all, the bracelets would be so popular and that everyone would want to support it,” Keener said.

Erin’s story has prompted other donations as well, including nearly $1,000 from her fellow nursing students and professors at WVU. Also, nearly $2,000 was donated to the WVU Children’s Hospital in Erin’s honor, which was suggested in her obituary.

The vigil will feature friends and family members who will lead the participants in song and discuss Erin’s life, culminating in the lighting of small candles and singing “Amazing Grace.” Debbie Keener suggested that folks bring their own chairs.

Erin Keener died Nov. 23, a couple days after she was struck by a car outside Vincent’s in Fairmont. So far, no one has been arrested in the case, although rumors have circulated about potential suspects.

Debbie Keener said she feels confident that someone will be brought to justice for the crime.

“I feel positive of an arrest,” she said. “They (police) assure me of that.”

E-mail Mary Wade Burnside at mwburnside@timeswv.com.

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