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Emerson fundraiser nets more than $8,500
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A fundraising event in memory of slain hiker Meredith Emerson collected more than $8,500 on June 25.

Through the "Dining to Donate" program, customers at 40 metro Atlanta Applebee’s restaurants, including the one in Gainesville, were able to designate 15 percent of their bill to Right to Hike, a charity started in Emerson’s honor.

The funds will be used for three initiatives: buying GPS units to prevent hikers from getting lost, microchipping pets and contributing to a UGA scholarship that sends a student abroad for language immersion studies.

Emerson, a 24-year-old Colorado native, majored in French at UGA. She was abducted Jan. 1 while hiking near Blood Mountain in Union County. Three days later, she was killed in the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area by Gary Michael Hilton, who is now serving a life sentence for her murder.

Hilton is also a suspect in the deaths of several other hikers in national forests in the Southeast.

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