Family establishes scholarship for Chesterfield teen killed in c - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Family establishes scholarship for Chesterfield teen killed in crash

Rachel Garka (Source: Family photo) Rachel Garka (Source: Family photo)

A Chesterfield family has established a scholarship in memory of a Chesterfield teen killed in a horrific crash one week ago. 17-year-old Rachel Garka was a student at Cosby High School.

As funeral arrangements are finalized, loved ones talk about the teen who loved to sing, teach swim lessons and ride horses. Those who knew Rachel Garka say she was exceptional.

"Oh my God, she was a child that was so focused on what she wanted to do with her life, and that is so hard to find nowadays at that age," says Kathy Pitt, the owner of Hunter's Ridge Equestrian Center in Powhatan.

Pitt has known the teen for several years and taught her how to ride horses. She says Rachel often took care of the horses on weekends, in exchange for riding lessons.

"Her ability with the horses and able to handle them was far beyond some people," says Pitt. "She had no fear of working with them."

Beau was Rachel's favorite horse.

"He would come when she called him," says Pitt. "He loved being around her."

But her work ethic wasn't the only trait that stood out. Pitt says for years, Rachel Garka volunteered with the center's therapeutic riding program and taught people with disabilities how to ride horses.

"She enjoyed it," says Pitt. "She always was smiling and talking with them. Treating them as an equal."

On Aug. 22, Pitt says Rachel was at the center taking her senior photos. That night, Rachel was killed in a four-car crash on I-95 in Hanover.

Her father Scott Garka, who is the president of CultureWorks, was seriously injured.

"She was a very special girl," says Pitt.

As the family deals with this grief, the center says they will be working on ways to remember Rachel, who gave so much, in such a short amount of time.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that people donate to the Rachel Garka Scholarship fund at Cosby High School.

The family will receive friends at 5 p.m. for visitation and 7:30 p.m. for a prayer service on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, at St. Michael Catholic Church, 4491 Springfield Road, Glen Allen, Virginia, 23060.

A Funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, at St. Michael Catholic Church.

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