On a bright spring morning in April, Karen Giddings stepped onto the campus of Agnes Scott College, where her daughter spent four years studying political science and playing softball.
"I can feel her spirit here, everywhere," she told a group gathered at the front of the campus. They were all there to honor and remember Lauren Giddings almost six years after her murder.
Lauren was killed by her Mercer Law School classmate and neighbor Stephen McDaniel in June 2011.
"I'm not going to dwell on her death and how she died," said Karen.
Instead, she moves forward and surrounds herself with others who knew and loved her daughter.
"That's what keeps us going or I don't know that I would be able to get out of bed."
Now, she wants to be that support for young women who live the way her daughter did and are striving to accomplish some of the things Lauren never got a chance to.
"She never lost sight of what life is really about," she says. "She lived more in her 27 years than most people to in 100."
Every year since her death, Agnes Scott has held the Lauren Giddings Memorial Walk and Softball Tournament. People and organizations from across the state pitch in for raffle prizes and all of the money raised goes into a memorial fund for Lauren.
"Probably about a year ago, we decided it would be a scholarship in Lauren's name," says Karen.
This year, they finally reached the $25,000 needed to fund the annual award for years to come.
The family hopes the scholarship will go to an Agnus Scott student who will be the first in her family to earn a bachelor's degree, just like Lauren. They also want the money to go to students studying law or special education, two subjects Lauren was passionate about."
"If they could just enjoy and pursue their dreams a little bit in the way that Lauren did, we would be so happy," says Karen.
She says she knows nothing can bring her daughter back, but Karen finds comfort in knowing that through the memorial fund, her daughter will still be doing what she loved most, helping others. She's also grateful that now the scholarship and her daughter's memory will live on for years to come.
The first scholarship will be awarded in the Fall 2018.
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