GREENBRIER, Ark. (KTHV) - Ten years ago, 13-year-old Kacie Woody died at the hands of an Internet predator. On Monday night, the community of Greenbrier came together to celebrate her life.
Organizers of the tribute called the gathering a celebration of Woody's life. Friends, family and teachers filled the Greenbrier High School Football field to remember a girl who meant a lot to the Panther community.
"I was Kacie's 7th Grade teacher," Teacher Shawn Hammontree said.
"Even thinking of her now, she was happy. She was the happiest person I ever knew," Friend Samantha Mann said.
"It was nice to celebrate Kacie's life and the kind of person she was," Father Ricky Woody said.
From a former teacher, to a good friend, to her father, the crowd at the Greenbrier High School football field Monday night was still cheering for Kacie Woody.
She died in December 2002 after a kidnapping and murder at the hands of a California man the 13-year-old met online.
"After ten years, we can think back of the happy times with Kacie, the funny things she would do and how caring she was about people," Ricky Woody said.
They moved on with the good memories of Kacie and keeping them alive with the light of paper lanterns that were struggling to lift off in the wind Monday night. But after a while, a few "lucky lanterns" took to the sky.
"You have that positive person in your life to have a shoulder to cry on, to listen, and she was that person. I'm trying to be that person for her now," Mann said.
It's carrying on Kacie's legacy through that good friend, that former teacher and her Dad.
"Kacie was a wonderful, loving young lady," Hammontree said.
"We try to get out the bad things that happened to Kacie and think about the good that she would want. That's what Kacie would want," Woody said.
Since her death, Ricky Woody has been very active in promoting cyber safety among teens all across the country. In his daughter's case, authorities said that California man posed as teenager online and drove all the way here to meet Kacie.
Her father said that this remains a serious problem, and parents really need to be nosy and monitor their kids, even though they may not like it.
Some of Kacie's friends also joined her father on this very personal campaign to make sure that no other teens go through what Kacie did.