ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) -- Travis Akers, 23, just celebrated his birthday. But instead of the typical candles and cake, Akers decided to make a much more poignant statement on Facebook by honoring someone else.
“I couldn’t imagine what the family was feeling,” Akers said. “And that's what really struck home, was her family and how close they were.”
“I went to school with Sophia her little sister,” Akers said.
Akers decided for his birthday he would create a Facebook page asking friends if they would help raise $500 for a scholarship fund set up by Rachel’s parents in her memory. The fund will go towards a scholarship at Campbell University where Silver was studying to be a doctor.
“I'd read in the obituary, at the very end they said, 'In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Rachel Helen Silver Memorial Scholarship,'” he recalled.
As word spread of the post, donations surpassed $7,000, and continue to climb.
“You know, once it kind of gained traction, you saw how many lives she actually touched, how many people cared about her and her family. It really wasn't that surprising," Akers said.
“She was one of the kindest people in the world, and she was absolutely brilliant,” Sydney Hedberg, a former classmate of Silver at T.C. Roberson, said.
Of the Facebook fundraising page, Hedberg said word traveled quickly among friends on social media.
“It's a testament to how exceptional she was,” she said.
In an obituary, the family described Silver as “very intelligent and a bit of a free-spirit.” She loved the outdoors, loved all animals, and had an infectious smile. She was gifted with a sharp mind and used it well.
Silver graduated from Duke University with a degree in Evolutionary Anthropology and went on to work as a research assistant at Methodist Hospital in Houston. She began med school at Campbell University in August of 2017.
Akers said he did not want attention drawn to himself, even in a story about what he did to shine a light on his friend and how she touched so many in her life.
“I wanted the day to be about that scholarship that they (her parents) made, and trying to remember her and help them any way I could. Someone who's that special," Silver said. "It doesn't take much for gratitude and sympathy to be shown.”