Jessica Ridgeway memorial: Colorado governor urges friends, family to 'overcome the darkness'

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (KMGH) - More than 2,000 people remembered 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway Tuesday night with expressions of love and laughter, tears and music.

The memorial for the slain Westminster girl began a slideshow of a smiling Jessica with her mother, father and other loved ones set to Jessica's favorite songs, including "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen.

Many mourners wore purple, Jessica's favorite color, to the ceremony.

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Gov. John Hickenlooper, wearing a bright purple shirt, told the gathering at Faith Bible Church in Arvada that his son, like Jessica, was also 10 years old.

He urged the community to overcome the "darkness" of the girl's death by following the joyful light that Jessica shared with everyone around her.

"The challenge is to make sure that we see that light, follow that light," Hickenlooper said, pointing to the hundreds of volunteers who had searched tirelessly for the girl after she when missing on Oct. 5.

He talked about the hundreds of law enforcement officers who "are just committing their entire being to Jessica" by working around the clock to find her killer and bring her justice.

"I think the challenge for each of us is to make sure that we... embrace our responsibility to remember her and celebrate her -- not just today. But to make sure that…her family and extended family have all of the support that we can extend them," the governor said.

Grace Church Pastor Rick Long described how the happy, loving girl was the light of her family's life.

"Jessica was the most joyful part of her home," Long said family members told him.

"A consistent statement that I've heard from everyone in the family was that Jessica cared for everybody," Long said.

He described Jessica as a girl who had two fish, two frogs. And, like many 10 year olds, she loved to watch Disney Channel shows, like "Shake It Up" and "The Wizards of Waverly Place."

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The minister urged community members to continue to rally in support of the Ridgeway family.

"I want to challenge all of you that this is just the beginning of the outpouring of love that this family needs from our community. You do not get over the loss of a loved one, but you especially do not get over the loss of a child," Long said.

"I implore you to pray for this family, care for them, reach out to them, support them in the days, weeks, months and years to come," Long said.

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