Several hundred people gathered at the city's wave wall on the beach Sunday, bringing in a tide of prayers that missing Florida State University graduate Ryan Uhre will be found.
It has been two weeks since anyone saw Uhre, 23, a Weston resident who graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School and attends St. Bonaventure Catholic Church in Davie.
Friends Andy Ball and Emalie Styles organized the candlelight vigil near the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel to pray for Uhre's safety and to publicize his disappearance.
"With the power of prayer, we will bring Ryan home," said Ball, who was on the St. Thomas wrestling team with Uhre. He chose the beach for Sunday's gathering because he said it was a favorite spot for their circle of friends.
"We just want that one little piece of information that's going to bring Ryan back because we miss him," Styles said. "We just want him home, and we want him back with us."
Uhre was last seen Feb. 2, Super Bowl Sunday, at Andrew's Capital Grill and Bar in Tallahassee. He was reported missing Feb. 7. His father, Michael Uhre, said he may have been in South Florida, and those leads are being pursued.
Michael Uhre said Tallahassee police are doing everything they can to search for his son and is encouraged that nothing indicating foul play has been uncovered so far.
"It gives us tremendous hope," Michael Uhre said. "This is something I've never experienced and I pray in anyone's life they never experience."
The ceremony started with the release into the air of a white Chinese lantern, which had messages of love for Uhre scrawled on it. At the end, the wave wall became a meditative place, holding about a hundred lit votive candles that spelled out "Ryan."
"We're here to support the family," said St. Bonaventure parishioner Alana Kaplan, who came out with her husband, Mitchell, and their two daughters. "My heart bleeds for those people."
Their daughters attend St. Bonaventure Catholic School, where one of Uhre's aunts — Christine Daiber — works.
Daiber appreciated the "outpouring of love and respect for Ryan" that she felt at the vigil. She said her nephew's disappearance was especially hard because he seemed to be at "such a great place," having started an internship with state Rep. Richard D. Stark, D-Weston, and preparing for law school.
"He had just come so far and been in such a happy space. It's just mind-boggling," Daiber said.
Authorities ask anyone with information about Uhre to call the Tallahassee Police Department at 850-606-5800 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477. Friends have set up a page at facebook.com/finduhre.
"You have to keep prayer there at this moment and trust that someone out there knows something and that Ryan is safe," said Rev. Ed Prendergast of St. Bonaventure's.
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