FAIRFIELD — The pain felt by family and friends surrounding the death of 21-year-old Rachel Hope Doran, of Westport, remains acute, but that grief is being channeled into a new nonprofit bearing her name, which will aim to help others.

There was a kickoff celebration at Penfield Pavilion on Saturday night — a day after what would have been Rachel’s 22nd birthday — with around 300 people in pajama bottoms celebrating the girl they knew and lending support to the charity that bears her name: Rach’s Hope.

“We are so incredibly lucky to have the friends and family we had who got us through this, and are still by our side,” said a teary Lisa Doran, Rachel’s mother.

“This is really just to thank everyone for all the help they gave us,” said her dad, Alan Doran, “and to get this charity started.”

Rach’s Hope will provide families with emotional and financial support during challenging times when a child is in an intensive care unit for a prolonged illness.

Family friend Robyn Trowbridge of Meriden remembers Rachel as “a light.”

“She was phenomenally sweet and sensitive and bright and drive and creative,” she said. “I miss her everyday.”

But, she noted, “She got a lot in in a short time. ... She was loved and loved.”