Thursday, May 18, 2017.  Brenda speaking at Fenwick.

Kelli, the family and I were and still are avid tennis players.

We know that in tennis, you swing at what comes your way, trying to connect and hit it back to your opponent.  

Sometimes you win & sometimes you lose.  At the end, you shake hands and learn a little something new that will you help to improve.  You don’t know when or where or if you will see your opponent on the other side of the net again, but you know that the points have been tallied and the Match means something in the bigger scheme of things.

The lessons on the tennis court can apply in life, too.

Today, I am here to present the Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Scholarship to a student – and tennis player — who embodies the kind giving spirit of our daughter, Kelli.

This student was a role model on her team as varsity captain, where, according to her coach, she took students under her wing and led with an example of strength and poise, balancing sportsmanship and an intensity of competition.

According to her tennis coach, “She will leave her mark on the team on a personal level in each one of the athletes who are learning from her example that athletes, like all group disciplines, is most importantly about self-control and strength of character.”

That strength of character is present in other aspects of this person. The oldest child in her family, she demonstrates responsibility and seriousness. She excels in the classroom, and gives back to others by participating and leading a variety of service projects, from Habitat for Humanity to the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine Junior Service League.

Like Kelli, she shows fierceness on the court and kindness off the court. She and her family have had to deal with a personal loss that has impacted their life, something that we unfortunately share.

Kelli’s middle name is “JOY”.   This year’s recipient says it best in her application for this award—“Kelli taught me how to choose joy even when it isn’t easy and how to share that joy with others.   Every day I strive to be like Kelli in terms of the way she treated others, and even today, years after her tragic passing, I continue to strive to do just that.”

Ceci Walsh, we are honored to present this scholarship in Kelli’s name to you —