Friends of Jelani Day remember him as “the light of the room” at moving ceremony

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DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Hundreds of people gathered at Danville High School on Saturday afternoon to mourn the death and honor the life of 25-year-old Jelani Day. The Illinois State student’s death and disappearance remain a mystery.

While the investigation into his disappearance remains ongoing, his family and friends shifted the focus to celebrate him, and the impact he had on so many others.

Day was on his way to becoming a doctor. He graduated from Alabama A&M and was in graduate school at Illinois State University.

His goal in life was to be a speech pathologist and help children and adults overcome communication challenges. Day’s friends traveled to Danville from all over the country to be a part of the service. They said the ceremony showed just how much everyone cared about him. Several of his teammates from his dance team and his fraternity brothers at Alabama A&M made the trip.

“I think today was well needed for a lot of us,” Gareith Swanigan, a former teammate and mentor of Day’s said. “It has been a drawn out process. I know we want to keep believing that we will have a positive outcome, and I still believe that we will get a positive outcome. Jelani was always the light of a room. He was always smiling.”

Day’s story attracted the national spotlight over the past few weeks. The tragic story caught the attention of a popular rapper. Offset, Cardi B’s husband, paid for all of the funeral expenses, according to a media representative for the Day family.

Day’s body was found in the Illinois River on September 4th, and officials identified his body on September 23rd. Investigators and the LaSalle County Coroner have not released an official cause of death. His family reported him missing on August 25th. The FBI is leading the investigation.

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