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A call to action in memory of Cherish

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Updated: 6/28/2013 11:48 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hundreds gathered at Paxon Revival Center Church Friday to remember a little girl, and vow to never forget her.

Many hope the memory of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle, will inspire change to the laws that are meant to protect children.

"We need to stand together," said Senior Pastor Steve Dobbs. "We've got to fight like we've never fought before and we've got to push like we never have before. Not another one!"
 
Pastor Steve Dobbs says little Cherish didn't die in vain. Her memory, he hopes, will bring change.

"We've got to change some laws. How can a guy, 21 days out of prison, go free with out any connect? Oh, don't let me get political," he preached, "but I'm telling you we've got to change something. We can't lose another one."

Cherish's accused killer is a sexual offender named Donald Smith, who has been accused of preying on children before. He was released from jail on May 31.

Many parents now say little Cherish was also the victim of weak laws.

"We're always talking about our children are our future, but yet you have such flimsy laws in place that don't protect our children which are our future so that makes no sense to me," said Owhnikka Cooper, the mother of another 8-year-old who spent time with Cherish in Sunday school.

Bruce Conway has been so moved by Cherish's story, that he's already shared it with local, state, and federal lawmakers, including President Obama.

"I've been crying every night because I see that child," he said, "and I want to protect her."

He's one of many parents who say it's up to them to keep Cherish's memory alive, and demand better in the future.

"If we don't be come alert and vigilant to the things around us then we're going to have more casualties like this," said Marcus Wilson.

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