Victim's Family Uses Tragedy to Help Others

October 10, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2012 at 7:34 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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October 10, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2012 at 7:34 PM EDT

West Seneca, NY (WKBW) - A family is now devoting their lives to their loved one's memory -- and hoping to prevent future tragedy.

Track and Field Star Ryan Purcell was killed in a hit and run accident on Seneca Street while walking home one year ago in West Seneca. He had just dropped off his girlfriend at her house.

18-year-old Ryan Purcell was a freshman at SUNY Fredonia, when 29-year-old Lori Maciejewski swerved across the street and struck the teenager.

Loved ones cannot believe it has been a year since Ryan was killed. Even as time goes on, loved ones return to where he died. A memorial started in the days after Ryan's death still stands -- with fresh flowers, a pumpkin and angel wings.

Brian Purcell, Ryan's cousin, says "He was a kid that had endless potential. He was dedicated, devoted, fun-loving ... His spirit was just unbelievable."

Ryan was an aspiring engineer and beloved track star. Brian says he loved the community and team effort.

Now loved ones want to remember his firey spirit.

Jack Reid, a family friend, says "We're going to do what I think would be Ryan's wishes. We're going to take this tragedy and turn it into a positive."

The best way they could think of -- through running. Loved ones are planning a memorial run in Ryan's name. The money will go to scholarships for graduating seniors going to SUNY schools and other charities.

Jack says "This is one of the largest initial response that I've seen."

The idea of giving to students came about because Ryan was studying at SUNY Fredonia. Jack adds that he was not just a great athlete, but a devoted student, explaining "Ryan dedicated 100-percent to both areas. Didn't want to be a good athlete unless he was going to be a great student."

The First Annual Ryan Purcell Memorial Run is October 13th at 9:30 in the morning on Saturday, October 13th at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.

For more information, you can visit http://www.ryanpurcellfoundation.org.

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