‘In light and in love’

Highlanders leave messages of love for the Cannon family.
Highlanders leave messages of love for the Cannon family.

An infectious smile and a contagious laugh.

Those words described fellow Highlander Alexa Cannon in an intimate and emotional ceremony held on the evening of Jan. 30 in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

Nearly one thousand members of the Radford family, wearing Alexa’s favorite color, blue, gathered to remember Alexa’s life and provide support to the Cannon family.

Those close to Alexa shared remarks, stories and words of encouragement with the Cannon and Radford families.

“I was struck by how deeply she cared about each person that she met,” said the Rev. Rachel Thompson. “I know how deeply that she cared about many of you. This has affected so many people in so many different ways. I know that you are all grieving all kinds of losses, things that words can’t quite express.”

During her remarks, Student Government Association President Juliana Stanley said whether you knew Alexa personally or not, she was a Highlander that touched many lives across campus.

“Family is why we are all here tonight. Family is always there for you - through the good times, the bad times, and the tragic times,” Stanley said. “Together, we can find the strength to remember Alexa and reminisce - and celebrate - her life.”

Blue glow sticks were raised in the air as the song “I Can Only Imagine” was sung.

Blue glow sticks were raised in the air as the song “I Can Only Imagine” was sung.

Karina Covarrubias and Karol Galvimontes, two close friends of Alexa and fellow Highlanders, shared their memories.

“She was helpful, reliable and driven to give back to the organization and community,” Covarrubias and Galvimontes said. “She always put others before herself.  She was always laughing and joking around. The memories we created with Alexa are some that will never be forgotten and will be cherished forever.”

Stirilng Barfield, assistant professor of psychology, said that Alexa was deeply concerned about those around her and that she “wanted everyone to feel safe and loved.”

“Alexa, you will forever be a light in our hearts,” Barfield said.

Another of Alexa’s professors, Holly Cline, chair of the Department of Design, said that Alexa had a “great smile and a great sense of humor. She had a light, and in her presence, you felt it.”

More than 600 members of the Radford family gathered to celebrate life of Alexa Cannon.
Nearly one thousand members of the Radford family gathered to celebrate life of Alexa Cannon.

Two of Alexa’s former classmates shared some of their memories with the Radford family.

“We had many long nights studying together, sharing laughs, tears and jokes,” said Sam Welch. “She wanted to capture every moment that she could on Snapchat or Instagram to share with those that she loved. Her smile and laughter were infectious, and she was filled with so much love for her family.”

Logan Williams shared a memory of a road trip to High Point Furniture Market. On the trip, Williams said, Alexa was so excited that they blasted Beyoncé the whole way down and belted the lyrics at the top of their lungs.

“I could see the joy and the happiness and the glimmer of love in her eyes,” Williams said. “I just want everyone to keep the memories you have of her close.”

A photo montage, accompanied by the song “Even When it Hurts,” was shared with attendees. The photos were filled with Alexa’s infectious smile and depicted the joy with which she lived.

As the formal portion of the gathering concluded, it was requested that the crowd part to allow the family and close loved ones of Alexa to pass through. The crowd stood quietly with reverence; the silence spoke loudly about the support the Highlander family has for the Cannon family.

With blue glow sticks in hand, hundreds of people made their way to the fountain located at the heart of campus. Gathered around the fountain, the song “I Can Only Imagine” was sung as glow sticks were raised in the air.

Following the time of remembrance at the fountain, numerous Highlanders shared their favorite memories of Alexa with her parents, with one student sharing the impact Alexa made on campus – as early as during her Quest orientation session.

Another group of students provided the Cannon family with a poster collage created from their favorite pictures with Alexa, capturing her infectious smile and contagious laugh.

The student-led, campus-wide gathering and walk of remembrance are powerful reminders of how the Radford family stands strong together.

Feb 1, 2019
Max Esterhuizen