In Loving Memory of our friend Rikki 

in Loving Memory1

It is with profound sadness that we report the passing of USF Student Rikki Leigh Lewis, who was a member of the Sun Dolls Dance Team in 2001 and 2002.  She will be greatly missed.  Our sincerest condolences to her family.


 rikki manda shasha2

Sun Dolls 2001-20023


Memorial Book

Name: Tina Cerna
E-mail address:
Comments: My friend just e-mailed me this site as she was looking for Rikki's 'Memory-of' site, this one came up. It made me cry (again). I miss you Rikki!! For those of you who do no know, you can find her memorial site at:


Thursday, November 2nd 2006 -

Name: James Foster
E-mail address:
Comments: I was just sending my condolences as a future student of usf.
Thursday, May 12th 2005 - 
Name: Jodi Marie
E-mail address:
Comments: I don't know what to say honestly. My heart goes out to you Mrs. Lewis. I never actually met Rikki but from reading all the websites with her on them, you can tell what an awesome person she must have been. My heart is with Rikki, yourself, your family, and John. he always loved her and he always will. Stay strong John. Everyone is here for you. we all care.
Wednesday, April 20th 2005 - 
Name: Gwen Lewis
E-mail address:
Comments: To all my daughters friends, I want to take the time to thank everyone who has written on this web site, sent cards and letters to my e-mail and to my home. Rikki had a zest for life that is not found in most. She was not only beautiful on the outside, but just as beautiful on the inside. She had a way to make me smile, even when I was at my lowest point. She still and always will bring a smile to my face and to my heart. I thank God every day for the gift He gave me, it was 21 of the most wonderful years of my life. I believe in my heart that she was sent here from God to touch each of our lives, and she will continue to watch over us from a distance. I love each of you, as my daughter did. And will forever hold you in my heart. Thank-you all again, Gwen Lewis
Thursday, April 14th 2005 - 
Name: Mark
E-mail address:
Comments: This is very odd for me to be writing this here. First of all, I haven't seen or heard from Rikki since I graduated in 1998. Secondly, I just found out about her passing a few hours ago.

I am greatly saddened by this terrible tragedy. I knew Rikki very little and for a very short while at that, but my memories of her are nothing but fond ones. She was such a beautiful, intelligent, charismatic, and talented girl. I always thought that she was destined for greatness.

I was a senior at Western High School when she was a freshman. We met in a musical theater class. Every boy wanted to get to know her better. I was certainly no exception. She was a phenomenon, her spirit was intoxicating. Her beauty seemed that which could only be created in dreams. But she was no dream, she was as real as real could be.

Until I was a senior, I was one of those heavy metal jerks that hated everything and everybody. I especially put down cheerleaders. I'm not quite sure why, but I digress. By the time I was a senior, my entire attitude had changed. Meeting Rikki put an especially positive spin on my outlook on life. Ever since her, I had gained an appreciation for cheerleaders. How could I not? She was one, and she was irresistably hypnotic.

I spent a good chunk of each class that we shared talking to Rikki and I loved to make her laugh. She loved to laugh and enjoy life. All young people should. Life is too short to be sad or bitter. She made people happy in that class. The girls may have envied her, but who can blame them?

When I heard the news a few hours ago, I was shocked. Saddened. Disgusted. My stomach is in knots and I cannot stop crying. But truthfully, the Rikki that I remember would not want to see anybody as mournfully sorrowful as I am at this moment. It seemed like her goal in life at that point in time was strictly to make people smile, laugh, and enjoy life as she did.

I flipped through my senior year yearbook, crossed my fingers, and said "Please, God. Please have a signature from Rikki" and I do. It reads:

"Mark, well you definitely have always had a way to make me laugh, even when I'm in the worst of moods. You are such a great person and don't ever let anyone tell you different. I will always remember your white suit and your inspirational "attitude checks"! Good luck - I know you will succeed in everything you do in life. I will always love you. Love, Rikki"

I cherish this yearbook now more than ever. I cannot find the right words to express the sadness that I feel about this tragic loss. It cannot be put into words. I send my condolensces to Rikki's family, friends, and anybody else who will miss her as much as I will. I have not cried in a long time. I've had no reason to. Now, I can't stop. Rest in peace, Rikki. I hope that there is as much love for you in Heaven as there was and still is here.

Tonight, you will be a dream. Love, Mark
Friday, April 8th 2005 - 
Name: Brian Suggs
E-mail address:
Comments: Rikki was always able to cheer you up no matter how upset you were. All she had to do was show off her beautiful smile and you completely forgot what it was you were upset about in the first place. She was a beautiful person with a beautiful soul. I feel extremely honored that i had the pleasure of having her in my life as my friend. She will always hold a special place in my heart and I will miss her very much. Right now I know she is in heaven watching over all of us, smiling! love you ms. lewis!
Monday, March 14th 2005 -
Name: Jake Shanahan
E-mail address:
Comments: It goes without saying that we have lost someone truly special to us all. Rikki, we miss you so much. To her family and friends, may God watch over you all because we all know that Rikkis is watching over us.
Monday, March 14th 2005 - 
Name: Bobbie
E-mail address:
Comments: Rikki will be missed. I remember her when she was my daughter's childhood friend at flamingo elementary. My heart breaks for her mom, Gwen, each and every moment of the day
Wednesday, February 2nd 2005 - 
Name: Tom McDonald
E-mail address:
Comments: We all share the loss of Rikki Lewis...I had the pleasure of knowing Rikki from Western HS and that is how I will remember her...Rikki made everyone around her see how special a person she was...there was always a smile on her face and you couldn't help but want the best for her...she will be a part of our lives, always...Tom
Sunday, January 30th 2005 - 
Name: Jennifer Cochrane
E-mail address:
Comments: Rikki was my oldest friend... since 4 years old. I am devastated and I will never forget what I beautiful person she was, inside and out! RIP!
Thursday, January 27th 2005 - 
Name: Danielle Fitts
E-mail address:
Comments: Rikki Leigh Lewis first came bouncing into my life at an all-star cheerleading competition in Jacksonville in 2001. She was pigtailed and glittered and grinning from ear to ear. She introduced herself to me, and told me she was a dancer who wanted desperately to dance with the USF Sundolls. She had been to more than a few of our football games and had recognized me as their coach. She was bubbling with excitement. Though we spoke that day only briefly, I was immediately taken aback with how confident and outgoing she was. I even had the opportunity to watch her perform with her cheerleading squad and was impressed by her energy. I remember thinking that she would be a fabulous addition to the team.

I didnít see Rikki again until Sundolls tryouts that April, but I immediately remembered her when I saw her. She was a shining presence amongst a roomful of talented women, tall and beautiful, with the most infectious giggle Iíve ever heard. By the end of the weekend of tryouts, Rikki was one of 18 women chosen to perform with the Sundolls for the 2001-2002 season, and I was thrilled to work with her.

A rookie and the youngest on the team, Rikki was surprisingly never afraid to speak her mind. At every practice, she was a ball of energy, a perfect balance of hard-working dancer and complete clown. I was often accused that season of favoring Rikki, having admittedly enjoyed her company. She was youthful, yet insightful, and animated beyond reason. A simple story told by Rikki could often become a stage production, and Lord, she could make me laugh!

Rikki and I had close-knit families and found common ground in that respect. Rikki spoke often of her family and her love for her little sister. They were her support system and she adored them. I could tell by the way they watched her from the stands that the feeling was mutual. She was as proud of them as they were of her.

Shortly after resigning as the Sundollsí coach, I was able to see all of the girls together at my wedding. Sadly, after the wedding, I lost track with most of the girls, but was able for a short time to keep in touch with Rikki and a few others. I lost track of Rikki with time but she has always been in my thoughts, as have the rest of the Sundolls family.

When I received the phone call that Rikki had been in a fatal accident, I felt like someone had cut off my air supply. I immediately thought that she was too young, too vibrant to be taken away so young. But then, we are never ready to lose people we love, no matter their age. I have learned not to seek reasons in tragedies, and cannot offer any insight into why weíve lost Rikki. I can only say that for me, the sun is not shining as brightly today and that the world will not be the same without her beautiful smile and infectious laugh. My heart goes out to her family, her friends and those of us who were truly privileged to have shared her life with her if even just for a moment.

Danielle Pena Fitts
USF SunDolls 1997-2002
Tuesday, January 25th 2005 - 






Photo Credits:  

The Family's Memorial Site is located at: