News-Sun photo by CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY Friends and family gather to remember Lori McKenna with a candle light vigil. McKenna was killed Thursday night in traffic crash. Her daughter, Cayla Summerville, is at extreme left.
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published: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Honoring a hero
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
LAKE PLACID -- Friends gathered around Lori McKenna's family Thursday night -- people who loved had loved her and people who love her two daughters.
The power of connection was overwhelming, as was the sense of loss.
McKenna, 39, died Aug. 2. Shopping in the USA Grocers store, she was chatting with the owner's son and nephew when an SUV and a motorcycle crashed right outside.
The motorcyclist lay in the roadway. McKenna ran to him kneeling down to assess his condition. Fortunately, he had survived with minor injuries.
According to the preliminary police report, McKenna then stepped back and was struck by an oncoming motorist. She died shortly after at the Lake Placid Florida Hospital.
At the candlelight vigil Thursday, a week to the day of the terrible accident, no one wanted to talk about what had happened that night. They wanted instead to remember Lori and grieve.
It grew dark. The group lit their candles. Pools of firelight reflected thoughtful faces. Many cheeks glistened with tears.
Lisa Scott, a friend of Lori's daughter, opened the ceremony with a prayer. "We're here to celebrate her life," Scott said, "and her impact on all of our lives."
Kayla Summerfield, 19, Lori's eldest daughter, stepped forward, friends protectively surrounding her. She looked out at the group of about 50 people gathered in the narrow backyard of her apartment. Fighting tears she shook her head in gratitude and wonder.
"Mom always thought she didn't have friends," she said. "Jeeze, look at all the people here."
McKenna emerged as a woman who maintained her courage and determination despite struggling with depression. A person enriched because of her contradictions.
Outgoing and generous, Lori was the kind of person who was always ready to help, to encourage and inspire. She took her own advice too, her family and friends remembered. She was back at school, studying computer electronics at South Florida State College. She made the honor society.
"Lori always wanted to help someone else," her husband Bill McKenna said. "She was always going fast, being cheerful."
"If she had it, she'd give it, no question," one mourner said. "And she had no trouble saying what was on her mind."
Smiling in memory, the woman added, "She told me to get a backbone."
A woman near the back said she and Lori had started out as enemies, but, "oddly we became best friends, like sisters." The young woman began to cry. "She loved her daughters more than anything," she said, crying harder.
She was a wonderful mother, people said over and over again.
Her younger daughter, Amanda McKenna, 15, is too distraught to leave her home.
More than one person referred to the way Lori died trying to help someone. None were surprised.
"Lori went out helping someone," said Mike Smith, Kayla's boyfriend. "She has a ticket to heaven."
The shock of her sudden death affected everyone.
"Death is a part of life, no way around it," said Smith. "Cherish every moment,"
"I want to remember everything that's happy," Kayla added, wiping tears from her cheek.
McKenna's funeral service will be at 1 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church of Lake Placid.
Comments (by: News-Sun staff - 8/13/2012)
Brother in Blue,
You dont print anything positive. (by: Brother in Blue - 8/13/2012)
Why is that you guys will not post positive remarks? I know I have posted at least three times to let people know I feel Lori was a hero in her actions to help the motorcycle operator, yet you do not print them.
Honoring a Hero (by: Christine Summerfield Nelson - 8/12/2012)
I want to thank Christopher Tuffley for this beautiful story
Lori (by: Lt James Fansler LPPD - 8/12/2012)
She will always be remembered as a hero to us all.
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