Singer Hailee Steinfeld performed at a Long Island vigil for a teen who died in a go-karting accident in Florida Wednesday after one of the girl’s teachers tweeted at the “Pitch Perfect” actress and asked her to attend.
Videos posted to social media showed Steinfeld singing in honor of New Hyde Park Memorial High School student Leah Kuczinski as her classmates, teachers, friends, family and other mourners stood on the school’s football field. The 16-year-old died after a crash Thursday at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Florida.
“Thank you guys all so much for asking me to come here and honor Leah,” Steinfeld said in videos posted to Twitter. “You all had so many incredible things to say about her, I really would have loved to have met her. I know she was supposed to come to my show this summer, so I wanted to come here and sing a song for her.”
She then asks, “Will you sing it with me?” before performing an acoustic version of her single, “Starving.”
The pop star’s appearance comes just one day after one of Kuczinski’s teachers, Tiffany Salcedo, asked Steinfeld to come to the vigil, saying the teen was a fan and had planned to go to see her in concert in July. Salcedo’s tweet was re-tweeted more than 1,900 times.
Salcedo said she sent the tweet during what would have been Kuczinski’s Spanish class because the 16-year-old was such a big fan. But she was surprised when the tweet took off, with fellow students sending direct messages and retweeting the original tweet.
“Leah loved Hailee,” said Salcedo. “She’d ask me to play her songs during class.”
Within two hours, Kuczinski’s family had gotten a call from Steinfeld manager saying she would be there.
Salcedo said most of Kuczinski’s classmates knew how much she loved Steinfeld, too — but they didn’t know the singer was actually coming until she walked onto the football field bleachers. She said that many of the students were brought to tears by the performance.
“I know Leah was in heaven smiling down,” she said.
After the performance, Salcedo said Steinfeld asked to meet her and three of Kuczinski’s best friends. Salcedo said the singer was very moved by the school’s response.
“She said, ‘Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I’m so happy I can be part of Leah’s memory,'” Salcedo said.
She added, “She’s a class act. Not many people would have taken the time to come and fly when they have to be somewhere else in the morning.”
“She lit up every room that she walked in,” said Salcedo. “I always called her my little ray of sunshine.”