ROCHESTER, N.H. (CBS/AP) – A large crowd gathered Saturday night to remember slain reporter James Foley’s courage and heart during a vigil in his Rochester, New Hampshire hometown.

A nonprofit group that brings humanitarian aid to people in Syria organized the vigil.

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The 40-year-old Foley was killed this past week by Islamic State militants. He was abducted in November 2012 while covering fighting in Syria.

“We are very honored to be here tonight. We are honored that you care and love Jim,” Foley’s father, John told the crowd.

Foley’s mother, Diane, also addressed the crowd.

“We want to thank you for understanding Jim’s heart. And I pray that you will pick up the challenge to love like Jim did,” she said.

Others condemned ISIS’s brutality.

“ISIS Is evil. ISIS is cancer. It needs to be eliminated,” said Dr. Salman Malik, of the Islamic Society of New Hampshire.

The group, NuDay Syria, says it wants to honor freedom and Foley’s belief in freedom for all, including the Syrian people who have been fighting against an oppressive regime. The group is an advocate for displaced Syrian girls and women who need help providing for their families.

Nadia Alawa, the founder of NuDay Syria, organized the event.  She told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz that Foley’s work as a journalist was incredibly important to the people of Syria.

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“He really had that connection to the Syrian people,” she said. “He really believed that they deserved freedom like everybody else.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports

Alawa never met Foley but she said she wanted to make sure people know he didn’t die in vain.

A Muslim-American, Alawa said she hopes Saturday night’s event sends the message that ISIS does not represent people in her faith.

“It’s completely against Islam. There’s nothing in Islam that says you can take other people’s lives in this way, behead people,” she said. “The whole thing is just so atrocious.”

A holy Mass of “Healing, Hope and for Peace” is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary located at 189 North Main Street in Rochester.

All flags in the town will be flown at half-staff Sunday in Foley’s honor, Rochester police said.

 (TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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