Group remembers Leelah Alcorn and her wish for the world on anniversary of death

CINCINNATI -- In Leelah Alcorn's final hours, she pleaded for people to fix society and make the world a more accepting place.

A small group gathered on the anniversary of Leelah's death Thursday to show that mission isn't forgotten. 

"It was heartbreaking on so many levels," Laurie Bertram said.

They place a wreath alongside the highway named in Leelah's memory each year. They also maintain the stretch of Interstate 71 quarterly through the Adopt-A-Highway Litter Program.

Leelah Alcorn

"It means a lot, even for people who don't know what it's for," Savannah Riggsby said. 

Leelah was 17 when she walked into traffic on I-71, taking her own life. She struggled for acceptance as a transgender person, and in a final message to the world she asked for her death to "mean something."

"We want them to be able to have hope -- and not despair -- and acceptance, that's really what we're looking for," Bertram said. 

Earlier this year, crowds remembered Leelah at the Cincinnati Pride Parade. Since her death, the Cincinnati City Council banned gay conversion therapy and the way schools treat local transgender students has gained public attention. 

"It is an open, accepting area, but at the same time we do still have some kind of closed-minded people here," Riggsby said. "So, I just think it'd be nice to know how many people around the world, or in the U.S., that know her story and want to help. I think it would make her happy."

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