Spierer family hosts event to thank volunteers

Robert and Charlene Spierer address the crowd at "Laps for Lauren."

BLOOMINGTON - Volunteers who helped search for a missing IU student held a reunion Saturday.

"Laps for Lauren" was a chance for Lauren Spierer's family to say thank you and to talk about hope.

"Welcome. We're glad you were able to come out today," Lauren's father, Robert, told the crowd. "We feel a very integral part of this community."

From the minute the Spierers arrived in Bloomington, they have been surrounded by strangers that have become a second family.

"We wanted to feel good and have a feel good moment with the people of Bloomington," Spierer said.

There have been few such moments in the past five weeks. The search for Lauren is far from over, just suspended. Volunteers, who once lined up in the hundreds, are now down to about a dozen.

"It is just on my mind all of the time. I have been texting back and forth with Lauren's mom, Charlene, just 'How are you? Thinking about you.' Just anything that reminds me of Lauren or IU students or my daughters," said volunteer Lisa Mallory.

Mallory is one of a handful of volunteers that have been working nearly everyday to help find Spierer. She started as one of the hundreds of volunteers that came to Lauren's apartment building early on.

"Knowing that she is still out there somewhere and that those who do know something about where she is haven't come forward yet," Mallory said.

"It's been good to have a small break, but in the same sense, we're all, it's 16-20 hours a day for twenty-some days in a row. It kind of becomes who you are, so there's a little bit of a withdrawal. You kind of feel a little bit useless not being out there everyday still. Just a little frustrating with that," said volunteer Don Cranfill. "Having some time to reflect on it has put things into perspective a lot more."

Cranfill is another volunteer that has dedicated all of his free time to the search for Lauren. He works for the City of Bloomington and used all of his vacation for the year to help. Since the daily searches for Lauren have been suspended, he is back at work.

"Spend some time with the family. It helps you reflect on things, so that way you can approach things like this with a lot clearer head," Cranfill said.

Woodlawn Track is where Lauren Spierer came as a student to escape and exercise. Her parents led volunteers around that very track Saturday afternoon.

"Very focused. Focused on coming here and remembering Lauren and walking and doing what we came here for," said Mallory.

There are no planned searches in the near future, but volunteers at Saturday's event say they're ready to go in a moment's notice.

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