CHILLICOTHE, Ill. -- Julie Peters' family and those who searched for her met for the first time Tuesday night.
"I spoke with her mom and she said it's a blessing to know that not only did Julie love so many, but so many loved her," said Cheryl Rogers, a family friend. "That's a legacy her children will have of her and we're just, it's a blessing and we're thankful for that."
Standing side-by-side, they held candles and heart-shaped balloons to celebrate the life of the mother of two.
Besides the tears and hugs, there was also some laughter as loved ones shared stories about Julie.
She was studying to become a nurse and was heavily involved in church.
"One time we went to a youth activity and I was mad at somebody and she said Jerrod its okay, get on and go," recalled friend Jerrod Coryell. "I went to give her a hug and she said get off me and she pushed me away but I know she was just being funny and I knew she loved me back as a brother."
Many among the group were search volunteers who didn't know Julie, like Jenn Worlow.
Worlow hand made a cross for people to sign as a memory for the family, a family she now feels apart of.
"About half of our group didn't know Julie at all. We all just came together as a group and ended up being friends," Worlow said.
"For the searchers, we can't thank them enough," Rogers said. "It was a comfort to the family to know people were out there looking for her every single day and the sacrifices they made."
Julie's two young sons are with their grandmother.
Family members have set up a donation fund to benefit them. You can donate at any CEFCU location.
Julie would have turned 23 years old on Thursday.