I met Richelle when I first came to T.A. for the seventh grade. We were placed in the same homeroom. We became best friends almost immediately that year, because we had sort of a ying and yang kind of balance.

Richelle had a very exuberant personality, she'd always been energetic and enthusiastic. She was the kind of person that just lit up a room, whenever she was in it. It was difficult not to be looking at her, or listening to her, when she was around. She always had something to say and an incredible sense of humor to go along with it.

Two years later, we switched to Beaver Brae together for high school. There, too, she had the same magnetic draw for people to become close to her. I think that's a lot of why her memory has stayed so vivid for so many of us, and why things like Survivor Week took off so quickly and continue to see success. When something is inspired by such a strong and beautiful person, it's easy for people to feel compelled to participate.

I also think that's why so many of us dedicated so much energy to keeping her memory alive. You just know, when you meet someone that has that kind of spark -- and I think without saying it -- we all knew that something like that had to be kept alive in the only ways we still had possible.

She managed to be this really incredible combination of being a star student, an athlete and a social butterfly. She was always surrounded by people, and she didn't care what she was doing, as long as she was with her friends.

I treasure a lot of memories I had with her, but it's hard to put into words the specific times she really impacted my life. We were so young during those years. A lot of the time we spent together, we were just at each other's houses finding new ways to get into trouble, or sitting around talking about our futures. I think you could ask anyone that knew her on a personal level, and they'd say she had an amazing ability to light up someone's life without even trying.

Most people close to me know she changed who I was, long before she was sick, and still continues to today. In seventh grade, she was this incredible rebellious spark that always forced me to test my boundaries and challenge my beliefs. Some things seem so small in comparison to everything that's happened now, but I'll always remember that Richelle was the first person to ever get me to try sushi. She taught me to stand up for myself, and in a lot of ways I think tried over the course of those years to give me some of her incredible strength, so I'd be able to survive without her.

My best memories with her are all very simple things like going to cheer on local hockey teams, milkshakes and mini golf at Barbecue Bob's, swimming in the giant mud pool near her house or hiding under blankets watching scary movies that our parents didn't know we rented. All moments that seemed trivial, when we were 14 and had big dreams for our future, but also so important looking back now at 20, and realizing how blessed I was to have had a best friend, who's presence is to difficult to put into words.