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Safety awareness class held in Auburn to honor Aniah Blanchard

Published: May. 1, 2022 at 4:29 PM CDT
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AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - In October of 2019, 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard was kidnaped from an Auburn gas station. After a month of searching, her body was found in Macon County.

The Aniah’s Heart Foundation hosted an event at Max Fitness in Auburn Saturday to bring awareness about the importance of self-defense. The event came as Saturday marked the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“She was a go-getter, fisty, fun, goofy,” recalled Walt Harris, stepfather of Aniyah.

“She just shinned a light on everything,” said Elijah Blanchard, Aniyah’s brother.

Aniah’s Heart Foundation was created to bring awareness to these types of situations. Family and friends of Blanchard came together to teach men and women about safety awareness and self-defense.

The event included vendors, food, music, and giveaways with all proceeds going to support Aniah’s Foundation.

Aniah’s stepdad, UFC fighter Walt Harris, says situational awareness is important. When walking to your car, make sure to stay off your phone, always share your location with a family member, and keep your peers updated on where you’ll be at all times.

“We kind of just want to educate the community - how to prevent putting yourself in situations where you could be compromised and be in danger. Giving people things to look for and things to keep an eye out for while their out,” Harris said.

Aniah’s brother, Elijah, says this event is to bring the community together for Aniah and to prevent something like this from happening to anyone else.

“If we can save one person, then we’re doing our job,” he said. “What happened to Aniah can happen to anybody. One day, it was late at night, she was getting chips at a gas station and the fact that it can happen so quickly - we want people to understand that and realize that they need to protect themselves at all times.”

Walt Harris says to vote for Aniahs Law in November - it states that violent offenders won’t be allowed to be released on bail while waiting trial.

“The law that we had enacted in her name will be on the ballot,” Harris said. “So, we just wish that everybody will go out and give it a stamp of approval so that we can get it passed. It is going to protect and save a lot of lives and ultimately that’s our goal. Please do, do her justice, do us justice and vote for it.”

Aniah’s Heart is a non-profit organization dedicated to preservation of life through prevention awareness and empowering the vulnerable to significantly impact the incidents of violence and crime in our society.

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