May 20th, 2016.  <3 Coming Home to LT <3

Arriving at LT for the 2016 presentation of the KJO Memorial Scholarships had a different feeling this year. We knew in our hearts that 2015 was the last year that one of our children would have graduated from LT. As we all know it did not happen. Kelli was never to graduate at LT and we were never to know what college Kelli would have attended.

We are proud that we were able to come back home to LT this year to present the KJO Memorial Scholarships to 6 Graduating Seniors. It has been rewarding to see the impact that Kelli has left on this earth.

2016 Graduating LT KJO Memorial Scholarship Recipients are:

Hannah Dutler—per her coach she has taken on a tremendous leadership role with her cross country team, During the course of the season, she worked to get members of the team to donate shoes for the Share Your Soles Foundation to give to disadvantaged children around the world. Hannah has consistently shown that she is compassionate, caring, and hard working. Hannah will be attending Notre Dame.

Diane Kafkes—During her time at LT, Diane continued to volunteer throughout the community, from registering student voters and sparking the love of reading in young children at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library to distributing $700 worth of toys and clothing to children in the area through the LT Girls Cross Country Holiday Toy Drive. Diane infuses her thoughtfulness and consideration into her daily interactions with others. Diane will be attending University of Pennsylvania.

Matthew Petrak—Matthew heard a story about how Kelli shared kindness with others by asking someone sitting by herself at lunch to come join her table. Matthew says you can tell a lot about someone from actions like this, which are seemingly small to the person doing it, but very important to the person receiving the kindness. That is why he focused on kindness and consideration. He joined Best Buddies not only because he had friends in that organization but because he saw firsthand in a locker room the terrible way that some students with mental disabilities were treated. Matthew stood up to a bully in that locker room when he had seen enough of that treatment to a fellow teammate. An experience that led him to join and be a leader of Best Buddies. Matthew will be attending University of Chicago.

Nina Crouchelli—After seeing the 2015 recipients of the KJO scholarships beaming with joy at the Senior Awards ceremony, Nina walked out knowing she had to strive to keep Kelli’s spirit alive. Kelli was someone who Nina never knew personally, but who changed her life forever. She was shocked that a vibrant girl, only a year older than her, could have her life taken. Kelli reminds her to live each day with love and kindness. Nina will be attending University of Illinois.

Weston Credit—per his coach he was seen as a leader in all aspects of his life. His teammates looked up to him as a leader and feed off his enthusiasm, energy and leadership. He had the privilege and honor of delivering Christmas presents to the families of fallen or injured Police Officers. Weston did fundraising for Honor Flight and was able to participate in two welcome home flights. Weston was fortunate to know Kelli and said, “ Kelli always smiled, had fun, and was nice to everyone.” Weston is a kind of a shy person; but he tries to remember how great it felt to be smiled at or talked to and now strives to do the same thing. Weston will be attending University of Iowa.

Emily Markert—per her instructor Emily is spirited in everything she does. She is confident: She believes in herself because she has a track record of achievement. She does know that leadership is hard work. She is intelligent: She is able to see issues/topics from various sides and to articulate her thoughts in a thoughtful manner. Emily volunteered as a math tutor at LT and at Gurrie Middle School, and participated in Young Life and Kairos.. Her Senior Year there was a wake of multiple tragic student suicides and the consensus of the Student Body was the school administration was not doing enough to support student’s emotional needs. Emily and a few friends decided to step in and start up Secret Project of Happiness. The goal was to show LT students how loved and special they truly are, and to boost overall morale. This was accomplished through post-it notes. The notes would say “YOU ARE LOVED”, “STAY STRONG”, “YOU ARE A WARRIOR”. She knew it was a success when she saw smiles on the students face. Another small act that made a difference. Emily with be attending Vanderbilt University.

<3 The KJO Foundation wishes nothing but the best in your next Chapter of your lives! Continue to spread “JOY”! <3


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