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Athena Strand: Funeral service for 7-year-old included a custom pink casket, her favorite Disney songs

Strand's mother told WFAA that SoulShine Industries donated the casket for the service. The company also made 19 custom caskets for Uvalde victims.

WISE COUNTY, Texas — On Friday, a private funeral service was held for Athena Strand in Bridgeport, Texas. 

Family and friends gathered to say their final goodbyes to the 7-year-old, who police say was abducted and killed by a contracted FedEx driver

The first grader's mother, Maitlyn Gandy, shared publicly that the little girl was cremated after the service. 

She also shared that SoulShine Industries in Edna donated a customized casket to be used during the service. 

The company recently made 19 custom caskets for the victims of the Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde. SoulShine's owner, Trey Ganem, also customized caskets for the Sutherland Springs shooting victims in 2017.

Credit: Maitlyn Gandy
A photo of Athena Strand's casket that was used during her funeral service Friday.

Ganem donated the casket to the family at no charge. It will remain with Gandy and serve as a memory box for the family to place Athena's things inside.

Per Ganem, his company is also working on a custom urn that will hold Athena's ashes.

Credit: Trey Ganem
Trey Ganem stands next to customized casket for Athena Strand.

"It's not about just painting a casket-- it's about representing that loved one's life," Ganem said. "This one hit me pretty hard because we think we're safe -- especially with someone bringing us packages. I don't know how to comprehend what the family was going through, and it was really emotional for me." 

The color of the casket is pink, which was Athena's favorite color.

Credit: Trey Ganem
A photo of the top of Athena's casket.

The top of Athena's casket contains a princess crown with rhinestones -- a symbol that her father has tattooed on one of his hands that Athena liked is below. 

On the front of the casket are two Viking symbols. 

"One of the symbols means 'father-daughter' and then the other means 'mother-daughter,'" Ganem said.

Credit: Trey Ganem
A picture of the front of Athena's casket.

Strand's father participates in renaissance festivals, and the 7-year-old would often tag along per Ganem. 

"The family wanted a 'Viking Princess'-themed casket," Ganem said. "Athena had some cool pictures looking like a Viking -- she had an axe and a huge shield. She was a daddy's girl, for sure." 

Athena's name is also on the front of the casket, and LED lighting is draped along the bottom. 

Her photo is placed on the inside of the lid. 

"It looks like the casket is floating," Ganem said. "It turned out beautiful. The hardest thing a parent has to do is pick out that casket. I don't want that to be the hardest thing; I want that to be something that represents that child." 

Gandy took to Facebook and thanked Ganem personally and Hudson & Torres Family Funeral Home, where the service was held. 

Wrote Gandy: "Jacob and I, as well as Athena’s entire family, would like to thank Trey with SoulShine Industries. You helped us capture our Viking Princess in a way we didn’t think possible. Trey and his wife are truly friends for life. You guys are very talented, kind, amazing humans  Athena looked very comfortable in her bed."

Gandy told WFAA that Athena's favorite Disney songs were played during the service alongside her pictures. 

The little girl was particularly fond of the movie 'Frozen.' 

On Thursday, investigators made available arrest documents for the 31-year-old suspect Tanner Horner, who confessed to killing Strand after he said he accidentally backed into her while delivering a Christmas package to her rural home in Paradise, Texas. 

Horner told police that he panicked and strangled the little girl in fear of the consequences that would come after backing into her. 

An autopsy has been performed, but the results have not been returned. 

Horner is charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping, and prosecutors and law enforcement have said they will seek the death penalty

On Friday, the company that contracted Horner to work for FedEx, Big Topspin, Inc., did not provide a comment to WFAA when asked for one about Horner's employment. 

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