STEUBENVILLE - It was a time for hugs and tears and prayers as family and friends gathered for a candlelight vigil Thursday night to talk about the happy, friendly, inspiring and "awesome" Amanda Looman.
The 2010 graduate of Catholic Central High School and senior at Franciscan University of Steubenville died Wednesday from injuries she suffered two weeks ago in a vehicle accident near Dayton.
A Funeral Liturgy with Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at Holy Family Catholic Church with Monsignor Gerald Calovini and the Rev. Mark Moore concelebrating.
A CANDLELIGHT VIGIL — Approximately 300 people, including Catholic Central High School teachers, from left, Carol Naptes, Paula Diorio and Kathy Lally, stood with candles Thursday night to pray for Amanda Looman. The 21-year-old Catholic Central graduate died Wednesday from injuries she suffered in a vehicle accident on Oct. 13 near Dayton. -- Dave Gossett
Calling hours for the 21-year-old woman will be from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Sunday at the Mosti Funeral Home Sunset Chapel.
But for 40 minutes Thursday, approximately 300 people gathered on a cold evening in front of the Shrine of the Virgin Mother at Catholic Central to talk about Looman and the life "she lived to the fullest."
"Twenty-one years ago in January, I was packing to take Debbie to the hospital for the birth of Amanda. It was snowing that night. Twenty-one years later after we said good-bye to Amanda, I returned to the hotel to pack to come home and it started snowing in Dayton. I believe it was a sign that we as a family and a community need to start healing," Bob Looman told the people standing quietly with snow flurries drifting down.
"Amanda was a blast to play with as she was growing up. She was full of life all of the time. She was always a happy person and she wants us to be happy tonight. We as a family and a community have to heal," Bob Looman added.
"I am overwhelmed with all of the kids who came here tonight as well as the words of support we have received and the love for Amanda," said Debbie VanCamp, Amanda's mother.
VanCamp was wearing her daughter's Catholic Central letter jacket during the ceremony.
"She was a kind-hearted, free-spirited and adventurous person. She loved life. Amanda was a very unselfish person. I remember when she went to get her driver's license she came home and told me the people at the license bureau asked if she wanted to be an organ donor. I told her if she wanted to be an organ donor that was fine. This week she was given the chance to give life to five other people through organ donations," explained VanCamp.
"She was mature beyond her years. I know she loved Catholic Central and she is looking down on us right now. She would want us to remember her as she was ...s o full of life," VanCamp said.
VanCamp said she started receiving message of hope and prayers immediately after he daughter was injured in the car accident.
After driving to the Miami Valley Hospital, VanCamp started sending text updates to her daughter's friends who posted the messages on Facebook.
"As many of you know, Sunday evening Amanda was in a very bad car accident. She is in critical condition and is currently fighting for her life. She has broken her ankle, forearm, wrist and kneecap. Her brain is swollen and there is a lot of fluid surrounding her brain. Prayer is so powerful, and Amanda needs each and every one of you to pray for her every day," was the first message from VanCamp.
On day eight VanCamp wrote, "As you may or may not know, the neurosurgeon feels Amanda suffered a stroke last night, the pressures in her brain are severely high and not sustainable for life as we know her. Amanda would be overwhelmed with the support and love from everyone as we are. It's in God's hands now, and one day we will all be with Amanda again. Always keep her in your heart as we know she has touched the heart's of many."
Earlier this week came a final message from VanCamp, "God decided to take Amanda by His hand and guide her to His home. Although she was in our lives for only 21 years, she brought us so much joy and happiness. We will always keep her close to our hearts. She will be giving the gift of life to so many people for she is an organ donor. Those were her wishes. Please hold those you love close. Thank you for the overwhelming love, support, and prayers. May peace be with you all."
"We are all deeply saddened by the loss of this young woman. Now is the time for continued support and prayers for her family. Amanda has so many friends here tonight because she touched so many lives with her kindness. Now is the time to rely on the Lord and ask for his strength," declared Calovini, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church.
He was one of several priests from Steubenville parishes and Franciscan University of Steubenville who joined the candlelight vigil.
Moriah Vosteen approached CCHS Principal Rich Wilinski earlier this week with the idea of a candlelight vigil for Looman.
"She helped coach us two years ago when I was on the soccer team. Amanda was hysterical because she was always funny. She would do anything to help us. We are all so sad at Central this week because she was such a great person," said Vosteen.
Sarah Marrow played soccer at Central with Looman and continued playing soccer with her friend for three years at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
"She was one of my close friends. You can see tonight how loved she was. Even when she was sad she would be happy for other people around her. Amanda was an amazing athlete and was always encouraging her teammates to do better. All I can do now is to think about the happy times with Amanda and pray for her. She is in a better place tonight," shared Marrow.
"She was always a very vibrant young lady who was very involved with school activities. This is so sad. Tonight we are praying for ourselves and for all of the potential she had. Amanda would have made the world a better place," said retired CCHS teacher Carol Naptes, who taught Amanda, her sister and their parents.
Jamie Brockway stood with his friends at the vigil Thursday night.
"I graduated with Amanda and she was a good friend. And I can guarantee you she is making the wind blow out all of these candles tonight and laughing about it," Brockway said.
And, 2010 graduate Amber Stonebraker described Looman as, "a very outgoing person who was friends with everyone. We played soccer together for Central and she was awesome."
"Bob and Debbie graduated from Catholic Central and their daughters graduated from Catholic Central. When someone from Catholic Central High School hurts we all hurt," concluded Wilinski.
Looman was a senior management and marketing major at Franciscan University of Steubenville . As a freshman she also was a sprinter on the women's track and field team.
Franciscan University Athletic Director Chris Ledyard coached Looman at Catholic Central and later saw her on the college campus.
"Amanda was the all-time leader scorer in soccer at Catholic Central. She was one-of-a-kind person. She would make you smile with her light heartedness. We are all very sad and stunned at Franciscan. And Amanda is still inspiring the soccer team here," commented Ledyard.
"When I think about Amanda, I think of laughter, She was always smiling and just hilarious; you couldn't not like her," said head women's soccer coach Clare McBane.
The Amanda Kristine Looman Memorial Scholaship fund has been established at the university. Donations can be sent to the development department at Franciscan University of Steubenville, 1235 University Boulevard, Steubenville, OH 43952.
(Gossett can be contacted at email@example.com.)