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After the body of deceased University of Nevada, Reno student Sky Russell was discovered, a fundraiser and vigil has been organized to honor their life and help their family during their time of grieving.

“On May 4, 2023, we received the devastating news that a dear member of our community was found dead on the UNR campus,” said the fundraiser hosted on GoFundMe by Michelle Wallace Leutzinger. “Sky Russell … was the child of Sarah and Brandon Russell and sibling to Newt Russell.”

Russell’s body was discovered on the northeast end of the Quad on May 4 at 7:10 a.m. by a construction worker. According to the fundraiser, Russell had struggled with mental illness and cited their cause of death as a suicide.

“They had gone through a lot of therapy, both inpatient and outpatient, and while they had their good days, they also were struggling with a lot of darkness inside,” said Leutzinger on the fundraiser page. “Things just got to be too much and their taking their life was their way of ending their suffering and pain.”

Russell was newly 21 years old and was planning to graduate soon; they had a special passion for the outdoors and limnology, the study of inland aquatic ecosystems. The page called them “extraordinarily smart” and had strong wit, creativity and curiousity.

“Sky was deeply loved by not only their biological family, but a wide family of friends who saw them grow up over the years,” said Leutzinger.

In three hours, the fundraiser has fulfilled a fourth of their $20,000 goal, with many generous donations from anonymous donors.

The vigil, organized by Barstool Nevada and Old Row Nevada, will be held on Sunday, May 7 at the Mackay Statue “to remember a fellow student.” They are asking community members to bring candles and flowers in their rememberance.

Updated on May 7 at 5:19 p.m.: This story has been updated to remove Sky’s deadname.

Emerson Drewes can be reached via email at or Twitter @EmersonDrewes.

Emerson Drewes

Emerson Drewes (she/her) is currently a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno. Before assuming the editor-in-chief position in March 2022, she served as the Assistant News Editor and News Editor, respectively. She has completed internships at The National Judicial College, Las Vegas Review-Journal and, most recently, Los Angeles Times. In her free time she enjoys good movies and bad television shows.

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