CHARLESTON, W.VA. -- Seven years ago, Melanie Metheny dropped her toddlers off at daycare, called a local automobile body shop to confirm an upcoming visit, and vanished without a trace.
Metheny, then only 21 and a Belle resident, has not been seen or heard from since.
On Saturday, her family and friends gathered at Coonskin Park to honor her memory. Braving sweltering temperatures, they ate hot dogs, sang karaoke and even petted snakes as they shared stories about Metheny.
"She was a wonderful person," her mother, Debi Daniel, said. "She would help anybody who needed it."
Daniel especially remembered how her daughter constantly helped animals. Metheny once found a dog that had been stung by hundreds of bees and nursed the dog back to health.
"She just loved animals," Daniel said.
Daniel has founded an organization called Melanie's HOPE -- Help Our Pets Endure -- to continue her daughter's legacy as an animal lover. Daniel plans to donate the proceeds from the event to an organization dedicated to protecting animals.
Michele Mullins also remembers how deeply Metheny cared for animals.
She had seen Metheny the night before she disappeared. They hung out, grilled some food and chatted about enrolling in nursing school while their kids played.
"She was just typical, fun-loving Melanie," Mullins said.
Today, Mullins remembers her best friend as a great mother and caring young woman who had big dreams for a career as a nurse.
"I miss her every day," Mullins said. "She was ready for a bright future."
Mullins now maintains a Facebook page to update people and maintain awareness for Metheny. She wants to show people that, "It could happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime."