CHAMPAIGN, IL – Big crowds marched across the University of Illinois in Champaign Thursday night in support of missing graduate student YingYing Zhang.
"I have children of my own," said Jama Thomas. "I have five of them and this could happen anywhere. God forbid it doesn't, but this is a beautiful thing," she said of the support.
Zhang has been missing since June 9. Newly released surveillance video shows the moments she got into the passenger side of an SUV near an on campus bus stop. On Tuesday, the FBI recovered that vehicle, but found no trace of the 26-year-old scholar.
Zhang's disappearance is not only making national headlines, but it's also concerning Chinese officials. The University of Illinois is one of the more popular American Universities for Chinese students with nearly 6,000 enrolled in Champaign.
"I'm a student from China just like her and we come all the way here to pursue our dreams" said Yifan Ping. "One of our fellow friends are missing, it's like one of us are missing.”
Through Thursday's walk and concert, the Champaign community illustrated that despite nationality, race or age, they were committed to standing with Zhang and her family, and hope for her safe return.
"We're hoping the turnout is great, they find her; we bring her home. You know we're praying, we're all praying, this whole community."