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Birthday bash held in memory of Sierah Joughin

The community came together to celebrate what would have been Sierah Joughin's 26th birthday while raising money for the Sierah Strong for Schools program.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — Family, friends and the community celebrated a big milestone for Sierah Joughin, who was kidnapped while riding her bike near Delta in July 2016 and later killed. 

In her memory, family, friends, and the community came together on Saturday to celebrate her 26th birthday in a major effort to ensure this doesn't happen to anyone else ever again. 

"This is Sierah's Birthday Soiree and we are celebrating Sierah's birthday and everything that Justice for Sierah is doing and all of the progress we've made since our last event," said Tara Ice, Sierah's aunt. 

Joughin was 20-year-old when she was kidnapped and killed.

But she did not lose her life in vain. 

After her death, her aunt founded Justice for Sierah, to honor her life. 

And she developed what's known as Sierah Strong for the Schools pilot program. 

"The curriculum has 3 health lessons and 4 PE lessons and it's taught repetitively. So it's a middle school program currently. But our ultimate goal is that it'll be from Kindergarten through 8th grade. And it meets state standards," said Ice. 

The mission is to empower students to stay safe online and when they are out. 

It's already been piloted at Cardinal Stritch High School & Academy

Melissa Empie is the principal there. 

"With the world, we live in and all of the craziness that surrounds our children, especially social media and all of the things that they have access to, we wanted to do something to counteract that," said Empie. 

The Sierah Strong program teaches self-defense to students and the knowledge to protect themselves.

"And I think that's what our kids were looking for. It's something real. And not just a story about something. It's teaching them the techniques and what they need to protect themselves in our world," said Empie. 

So far, the program has been piloted in more than 20 schools in Northwest Ohio and two in Michigan with the hope that it can save someone's life. 

"It's important that Sierah is remembered for all the amazing things that have come from her life and not the tragic way that she was taken. And so having Justice for Sierah is a way to keep her alive," said Ice. 

Ice says this milestone is a way to keep making positive changes in people's lives. 

Her aunt says they're hoping to have the final rollout of 'Sierah Strong for the Schools pilot program' by this fall. 

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