Slain Montcalm Co. teen’s organs help save 5 lives

Kent County

CANNON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The heart of a Montcalm County teen killed earlier this month lives on as her organs were donated to help save the lives of five people.

A candlelight vigil was held Saturday for 18-year-old Destini Cunliffe, who was fatally shot in rural Montcalm County Jan. 13.

Rather than continue to dwell on her death, family, friends and loved ones gathered at Townsend Park in Cannonsburg Saturday in celebration of Cunliffe’s life.

A photo of a vigil for Destini Cunliffe at  Townsend Park in Cannonsburg on Jan. 23, 2021. 
A photo of a vigil for Destini Cunliffe at Townsend Park in Cannonsburg on Jan. 23, 2021.

“(Tonight) is not about the fact there was a tragedy in our family. It’s the fact that yes, she lived and she lived well,” said Cunliffe’s godmother Shauna LaFave.

At the vigil, those mourning Cunliffe learned how her generosity continues to impact the lives of others beyond the grave.

“She was an organ donor, and she was able to save five people’s lives through the gifts that she gave,” Alison Gillum with Gift of Life Michigan said. “Those are five people who now have a second chance at life.”

As an organ donor, Gillum said Cunliffe’s heart, lungs, liver and kidneys were gifted to help improve the lives of five different people.

Cunliffe’s parents, two sisters and other family members take comfort in knowing her generous spirits lives on.

As a final farewell, Cunliffe’s family closed the candlelight vigil by releasing lanterns into the night sky, each attached with a prayer.

   Lanterns are released at a vigil for Destini Cunliffe at Townsend Park on Jan. 23, 2021. 
Lanterns are released at a vigil for Destini Cunliffe at Townsend Park on Jan. 23, 2021.

Cunliffe’s family said they continue to work closely with police in the investigation into her death.

Earlier this week, News 8 reported that Michigan State Police troopers arrested two people the day of the shooting, but said they were still looking for others who were involved.

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