Candlelight vigil honors victims of violence and advocates for victims’ families

28th annual candlelight memorial service held this evening
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 11:12 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The 28th annual Candlelight Memorial Service was held in Leland on Friday night, honoring victims of violent crimes, such as murder, domestic violence and drunk driving.

Birdie Frink knows what it’s like to lose a loved one to violent crime. Her daughter, Amy, was killed back in 1994. It was her murder that inspired both the candlelight vigil and Frink’s advocacy work with her organization Justice for Citizens.

Justice for Citizens helps family members and loved ones navigate the court system in the wake of losing someone to a violent crime. Frink has attended many court hearings with families and helps them find other facilities and organizations that can help them get justice for their loved ones.

Frink has been awarded for her work several times in the past. Friday, she was recognized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

However, Frink says it’s not the prestige that keeps her going.

“It’s not the work that I’m doing, it’s the people,” Frink said. “They give me encouragement and I’m there for them. I pray that they will feel the love of others and that their victims will always be remembered.”

The vigil is held annually, and as the years go by, the number of victims remembered increases. The first vigil, held in 1995, honored a list of 13 names. This year there were more than 350.

“The event will always be successful and meaningful to the victims,” Frink said.

WECT’s Jon Evans emceed Friday’s vigil. He has emceed every vigil except for one since it started.

Country singer Randy Travis, who lost a family member to violent crime, sent in a video message to show his support.

For first-time attendee Dajoura Hansley, who lost her younger brother in a homicide, the event showed her she wasn’t alone.

“I just feel the energy, the love from everybody who’s been through the same thing. It’s nice to know there’s somebody out there to speak to,” Hansley said. “Before, you probably wouldn’t have known them. This is an event that’s connecting us through our family.”