Celebrating a Young Leader’s Dedication to Community, Kindness, and Excellence

The Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Foundation is proud to announce Brendan Whelton as one of the recipients of the 2024 Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Scholarships. Brendan (pictured 2nd from right), a Lyons Township High School (LT) senior, exemplifies the spirit of kindness, leadership, and community involvement that this scholarship seeks to honor. As a three-sport varsity cross country, swimming, and water polo athlete, Brendan’s dedication to his teams and academic achievements make him a standout candidate.

Brendan’s journey is marked by a relentless commitment to fostering a sense of community among his peers. He has been a key player in building an inclusive and supportive environment on his swim team. From his sophomore year, Brendan took it upon himself to ensure that no new team member felt left out or intimidated. His efforts to cheer for every swimmer, organize team events, and personally mentor younger teammates have transformed the team’s dynamics, earning him the role of team captain and the coveted Team Award for Sportsmanship.

Beyond his athletic achievements, Brendan has demonstrated a profound commitment to service. His involvement in St. John of the Cross Teen Ministry, where he dedicated approximately 30 hours annually, and his work with Challenger Little League for Special Needs Kids, highlight his passion for giving back to the community. These activities underscore his compassionate nature and his drive to make a difference in the lives of others.

In her recommendation, Brendan’s swim coach, Erin, praised his discipline, time management, and unwavering work ethic. Despite a demanding schedule that included morning cross-country conditioning, after-school runs, and evening water polo practices, Brendan maintained an impressive GPA, earning him an Academic All-Conference award. His coach noted that Brendan’s determination and ability to engage in every aspect of his life fully set him apart from his peers.

Brendan’s heartfelt essay further demonstrated his alignment with the values of the Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Foundation. He drew parallels between his own experiences and Kelli’s legacy, emphasizing how both used their love for sports and community to bring people together and create positive change. Brendan’s commitment to kindness, inclusion, and leadership mirrors the qualities that Kelli Joy embodied, making him a deserving recipient of this scholarship.

We are honored to support Brendan Whelton as he continues his educational journey. His achievements and character exemplify the spirit of the Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Foundation, and we are confident that he will continue to inspire and lead with compassion and dedication. Congratulations, Brendan!

All 2024 KJO Scholars pictured from Golf Outing