Friday May 1st, 2015. Speech given to Fenwick graduating class by Brenda O’Laughlin.  Scroll down to the bottom for pictures.

Congratulations to the Graduating Class of 2015

Thank you for having me here today.

Brenda @ FenwickAs many of you know our daughter KJO 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 handing out 18 scholarships, Kelli would have been 18 years old, to graduating seniors throughout the State of Illinois totaling $148K.  Here at Fenwick the recipients will receive $1500 renewable for four years, scholarship for a total of total value of $6,000 per student

As some of you might know, our daughter, Kelli Joy, was known throughout her brief, beautiful life for living up to her name – spreading “JOY” to others, whether it was saving up 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 infectious, in that it lives on in people who share JOY with others and the world around them.

Today, Kelli’s Family is pleased to recognize an outstanding young man & young woman at Fenwick who reflect our Kelli’s spirit of both doing good and doing well.  

FEN_3346You might know this young man by the orange wristband he wears in memory of his late uncle. That wristband bears the words Carpe Diem – which means “Seize the Day.”

This young man has definitely lived up to that phrase, seizing opportunities to do his best, whether on the field, in the classroom or with his family.  He has given hundreds of hours of time on service projects and still managed to excel in three sports and on various academic teams.

What struck us about him, though was the way he thought of his own family in seeking a scholarship and in his desire to seize the day, not for himself, but for others. And he seems to share Kelli’s demeanor and outlook on life, when he wrote, “I take great pride in serving with a smile.”


Kelly CanoyThe young lady that we honor here today also reminds us of Kelli, in that she is a very loyal, caring person who will put others ahead of herself.  She may not have started on the basketball team this year, but that didn’t stop her from mentoring the freshman who were playing at the varsity level.  She did not let setbacks slow her down, but challenged herself and others around her to be better.

She also was a volunteer with the Appalachian Service Project for the past two summers. Just like Kelli did when traveling to another state or to another country, it was important for this young woman to see and have an understanding on how others lived.  

Kelli knew how fortunate she was and wanted others to have opportunities the way she did, which is why she tried to spread “JOY” around the world whenever she could.

Kelli’s Family and to 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.

The 2015 Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Foundation Scholarship winners are Kelly Canoy & Austin Gharib.   Congratulations, Kelly & Austin.

Link to all recipients of the KJO Memorial Scholarship

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