May 20th, 2015.  Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Scholarship recipients from Hinsdale Central, 

Pictured Above (Left to Right) John O’Laughlin, Sarah Brennan, Jack McGowen & Brenda O’Laughlin.

Here’s the speech given by Brenda at the awards ceremony:

Kelli Joy O'Laughlin Memorial Scholarship recipients from Hinsdale Central presentation.As many of you know our daughter would have been graduating with the class of 2015 at LTHS. Kelli would have turned 18 on April 2nd. Since this is a special graduating Class to the family and foundation; we are awarding 18 scholarships since Kelli would have been 18 to seniors throughout the State of Illinois totaling $148K.  Here at Hinsdale Central the recipients will receive $1500 renewable scholarships for a total of $6K each.

Our daughter, Kelli Joy, was known in her brief, beautiful life for living up to her name – spreading “JOY” to others, whether it was saving to help children in other parts of the world or simply asking a boy sitting alone in the cafeteria to join her lunch table.  Kelli’s smile was infectious, and today, her spirit of optimism, kindness and dedication remains, in that it lives on in people who share JOY with others and the world around them.

LT and Hinsdale Central may be rivals in sports and other endeavors, but we have to say, that these students share Kelli’s dedication to making the world around them a better place. In that way, we’re all on the same team.  Today, Kelli’s Family is pleased to recognize an outstanding young man & young woman at Hinsdale Central who reflect our Kelli’s spirit of both doing good and doing well.

The first winner is a young man who counts consideration and caring for others as his most valued trait. This trait is evident in so much of his work, both in school and well beyond it. He’s an Eagle Scout, a juror for Peer Jury and was chosen Student Service Leader of the Quarter this past winter by his sponsors and teachers.

Kelli Joy O'Laughlin Memorial Scholarship recipients from Hinsdale Central are Sarah Brennan & Jack McGowenMuch of his time is given to those with special needs. He was a coach for the Special Olympics basketball team, active member of Peer Buddies and a helper in the Adaptive PE class. He wants to continue volunteering with Special Olympics while in college.  The words in his essay stood out to us, especially when he wrote: “Becoming not only a friend but a role model for them has given me a new sense of responsibility that gives me a reason to be even more responsible and caring for others than I have ever been before.” We like to think Kelli would give that a big smile.

The young lady that we honor here today also reminds us of Kelli, she loves to surround herself with family and friends, she is a caring person who will put others ahead of herself. At a young age she learned that people were different and some had disabilities. She learned to develop an acceptance and understanding for others; it became natural for her to make friends with those similar and different from her. She had many opportunities to work with disabled students with Hinsdale Central’s Peer Buddies along with Giant Steps in Lisle.

Like our Kelli, this young woman is a student athlete, committed to her sport. While on the Cross Country Team she always wanted to make sure that her fellow teammates felt included and reaped the same benefits as she did.   She did not let setbacks slow her down, but challenged herself and others around her to be better.

Kelli’s Family and the Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Foundation believe that this year’s scholarship recipients understand the importance in keeping Kelli’s memory alive by spreading “JOY” and helping others whether it is as simple as helping an elder out of the car or as complex as building a home.

This year’s Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Foundation Scholarship recipients are Sarah Brennan & Jack McGowen. Congratulations, Sarah & Jack!

Link to all recipients of the KJO Memorial Scholarship

Link to information on the scholarship requirements.