Family of Brittanee Drexel gathered by the tree of hope planted in her honor in Grand Park at The Market Common on Sunday night to celebrate her 21st birthday.
The Rochester, N.Y., girl went missing in April 2009 during a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach when she was 17.
“It is Brittanee’s 21st birthday,” said her mother Dawn Drexel as she fought back tears. “I remember when she was a baby. She wanted to do a lot of things for her birthday and someone took that away from us.”
The Drexel family traveled from New York to hold a candlelight vigil on Brittanee’s birthday.
“Every time we get her face out there, we get tips and we get leads in her case,” Dawn Drexel said.
Brittanee Drexel was last seen leaving the Blue Water Hotel on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach on April 25, 2009. Her case has been profiled on dozens of local and national television shows, billboards and websites.
Surfside Beach resident Julie Pollard said she moved to the area in July but had heard about the Drexel family’s search for Brittanee. She and her daughter brought birthday balloons to the vigil.
“I just [wanted] to show my support to the family. I have four daughters and four granddaughters and just can’t even imagine what they’re going through,” she said. “I just hope and pray that Brittanee comes home safe and sound.”
Dawn Drexel said more searches are planned for her daughter in the near future.
“We’re never going to stop looking for her until she’s back with us,” she said.
Maya T. Prabhu, firstname.lastname@example.org