Andrea Kwasniewski held her 2-month-old granddaughter, Mayci Whiting, as she fought back tears. Mayci’s pink bonnet stood out against the grey clouds and dark clothes of the crowd gathered at Immaculata Academy.
Mayci and her older brother, Chase, had been a source of comfort for Kwasniewski, she said as she stared lovingly at the sleeping child.
Kwasniewski was surrounded by dozens of friends and former classmates of her daughter, Ashley Whiting, who was killed July 1 in her home. She was 21.
Whiting was a 2012 graduate of Immaculata Academy, and several alumni wanted to celebrate and memorialize her life where they had all spent years learning and playing.
“Once I heard what happened and saw everyone’s reaction, I really wanted to make sure we as a school – as an Immaculata family – were doing something for each other, so I called up and saw what we could do and got this on the road,” said classmate Emily Vizzi, who had performed in plays and musicals with Whiting while they were in school. “You never expect this to happen to people that you know and care about.”
Everyone lit and held candles in purple glasses as several of Whiting’s friends shared memories of their slain classmate.
Amanda Weber was one of Whiting’s best friends in their time together at Immaculata.
“For my 16th birthday, she was chasing me around with a can of whipped cream and silly string down the street,” Weber recalled.
Deacon Robb Ciezki led the group in prayers as they remembered the friend they had lost.
Whiting was stabbed multiple times early in the morning of July 1 at her home on Madison Avenue. Her husband, Daniel Whiting, was also stabbed multiple times, and has been recovering from his injuries.
No arrests have been made in the assault.
On the same day as her death, Whiting’s classmates announced they had created a gofundme.com page to help care for Whiting’s children.
The initial fundraising goal was $5,000, but after donors surpassed that total in less than a week, the women wanted to double it. As of Thursday night, the page – titled “Ashley Whiting’s Memorial Fund” – had raised more than $6,000.
Kwasniewski appreciated the outpouring of support from both the memorial page and the vigil.
“Every ounce of support we’ve received so far is completely overwhelming, from friends, family, strangers,” she said.
“(Whiting) really touched so many people. Every day, we see just the life she lived. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”