RHINELANDER - Dozens of people gathered in Rhinelander Friday night for a candlelight vigil to honor 20-month-old Avery Edwards.
The vigil was held about a week after Edwards died, and days after his stepmom was charged in his death.
People held candles, prayed, and some even shed tears during the vigil. Many parents also held their children close throughout the event.
Members of Bikers Against Child Abuse also attended the vigil. One of their members, "Half Pint," says she cried when she heard of Edwards' death.
Denise Mecha had spent time with Avery while cleaning his father's home. She says he was a happy baby.
"This little boy was a gift to many. Thank you for everybody that is showing up this evening for Avery and his family," said Mecha.
Executive Director of the Tri County Council, Shellie Holmes, says that it is important for the community to mourn together, and to celebrate Edwards' life.
Holmes says many people think it can never happen in Rhinelander.
"Whatever we can do to prevent things like this, we as a community and as individuals need to step up and do that," said Holmes.
Edwards' mother lives in Virginia and could not attend, but she did send a statement to be read at the vigil.
The mother wrote, in part, "He impacted so many lives and stole so many hearts in his short 20 months of life. I still can't fathom that he is gone."
The Tri County Council is selling awareness bracelets and all proceeds will go to Edwards' mother. Contact the Tri County Council at (715) 362-6841 for more information.