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Editor’s Note: This story is about suicide. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Kailia Posey’s family and friends are celebrating the life of the late ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ star.
Relatives gathered at North County Christ the King Church in Lynden on Saturday to memorialize Posey, which was streamed live on the church’s website.
Posey’s stepfather, Steve Gatterman, announced the event on Facebook on Friday. “It will be a celebration filled with photos, videos and stories of how she touched so many hearts in such a positive way,” he wrote. “There will also be a few surprises that are pure Kailia…”
A large crowd gathered and more than 700 people joined virtually to remember the pageant star through photos, videos and personal memories of Posey. The service ended with a reception and a selfie booth in honor of Posey’s “love of selfies.”
‘TODDLERS AND TIARAS’ STAR KAILIA POSEY DEAD AT 16, FAMILY SAYS
Posey’s brother, Jayden Kai, was one of the people who spoke in his memory. He fought back tears as he remembered cheering her on at contests, just as she had supported him in his football matches. Jayden shared with the crowd that he recently comforted Posey when she was sad.
“I just wanted her to know she had someone and that I was always there for her,” he said.
Posey’s cause and manner of death was confirmed Wednesday by the Whatcom County Medical Examiner’s Office in a statement shared online.
The 16-year-old beauty pageant star died “of asphyxiation due to hanging ligature and the manner is suicide”, according to authorities.
Posey’s mother, Marcy Posey Gatterman, announced her daughter’s death on Facebook last week.
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“I have no words or thoughts,” she wrote. “A beautiful baby girl is gone. Please give us some privacy as we mourn the loss of Kailia. My forever baby.”
Since Posey’s shocking death, her community has launched a GoFundMe campaign that exceeded its original goal of $15,000, which was raised to help fund funeral costs.
Some of the late teen’s friends started selling clothes in her honor at their high school after she started the “Kailia Posey Teen Crisis Intervention Fund.” This fund was created as a resource to help other students in need.
“Trying to find beauty in the ashes is hard to do when you’re 16 and dealing with such a thing. Especially when it’s your best friend, your person,” the foundation page reads.
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“We want these hoodies to represent her light. Her life. And her joy. We also want to raise awareness that THERE IS LIGHT even when you don’t feel it. Help is just a branch away. olive tree. Be sure to always extend your olive branch, and don’t be afraid to hold on to someone else if necessary.”