COSTA MESA, Calif. - Family and friends of Blaze Bernstein, the 19-year-old college student from Orange County who was allegedly killed by a former classmate, remembered his legacy and promised to commit acts of kindness in his honor.
About 2,500 people attended the public memorial for Bernstein, reading selections of his poetry and remembering him as a person with a zest for life and dedication for helping others.
"I can't really accept it still, when somebody like this is taken from you so quickly in such a terrible way," said Blaze's mother, Jeanne Pepper Bernstein. "You feel like they're still part of you even though you know they're gone."
His friends issued a call for people to "Blaze it forward" by helping others in his name.
In January, Bernstein was reported missing while he was home during winter break. A week later, his body was found in a shallow grave in Borrego Park. A former classmate, Samuel Woodward, was arrested on suspicion of murdering Bernstein.
Attendees to the memorial were asked to bring canned food, which will be donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank, or they could make a $20 donation to the Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund.