Updated: 1:16 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 | Posted: 12:10 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013

Local alumni raise $6K for Peru fall victim’s family

By Katie Wedell

Staff Writer

Alumni have raised more than $6,500 for the family of a Catholic Central High School graduate who died while vacationing in Peru New Year’s Day.

Rachel Ianni, 26, died after falling into a ravine while hiking with her boyfriend near the famed Inca site of Machu Picchu.

According to Fox News Latino, rescuers located her body at the bottom of the ravine Tuesday after a five-hour search and rescue effort.

Ianni was a 2004 graduate of Catholic Central and a 2008 graduate of Wittenberg University, where she got her Bachelor’s degree in biology. She went on to get a Master’s degree in Marine and Environmental Science from Nicholls State University in Louisiana, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She lived in the Chicago area and worked as a biological science technician at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Fellow 2004 CCHS graduates have started an online fundraising effort in her memory.

“Rachel loved her family, was a great friend and an outstanding person,” the website says. “We must remember, at this difficult time, to rejoice in the fact that she touched a part of us all, it was a privilege to know her and that we should celebrate her beautiful life.”

Organizers set a goal of raising $10,000 to help the Ianni family pay for travel to Peru and the costs of bringing their daughter’s body home to Ohio. The family made the journey to South America this week.

In less than 2 days, more than 90 people have made donations to the fund. The total amount raised was more than $6,800 as of Friday evening.

One anonymous donor gave $1,000.

Most donations have come from anonymous individuals, while others have identified themselves as CCHS alums dating back to the 60s. Some people have left personal messages on site.

“For every memory you have left a place in my heart,” said one donor named Sarah.

“Rachel was a unique and beautiful person who will be missed,” said Chris Gillette.

Conroy Funeral Home in Springfield is handling funeral arrangements. Details are still pending.

Donations can be made to the fund set up by the Catholic Central Class of 2004 at www.gofundme.com.

Ianni was the recipient of the Marga Smith Award while a student in the biology department at Wittenberg. Named for a long-time lab coordinator, the award is given to an upper class biology major in recognition of excellence in scholarship and developed service to the biology department, according the the university’s web site.

Ianni won the award as a senior in 2008.


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