Ciara’s Gentle helps Masuk grads pursuing careers in particular schooling
MONROE, CT – Ciara O’Driscoll touched many lives drawing attention to Dravet syndrome, a rare drug-resistant epilepsy that begins in infancy or toddlerhood and causes seizures while slowing development.
Despite her own diagnosis, the 12-year-old Jockey Hollow Middle School student braved adversity and learned math, reading, writing and public speaking. She enjoyed ballet, horse riding, ice skating, and learned to ski before succumbing to the disease on January 16, 2017.
“She was just that little girl who saw only good things in the world, and she radiated that, so it was hard not to be inspired when you were around,” said Lori O’Driscoll, Ciara’s mother. “IThey haven’t realized that the little things that seem to bother people in their daily life really don’t matter that much. The most important thing is to spend time with the people you love and make memories. “
Ciara is also very much missed by her father Liam O’Driscoll and her brother Aidan, 13, with whom she loved to play.
Lori O’Driscoll, founded the Ciara’s Light Foundation to provide financial assistance to families with children with special needs or life-threatening illnesses. It also offers scholarships for Masuk High School graduates pursuing careers in special education at a four-year college.
The Ciara O’Driscoll Memorial Scholarship for Special Education offers between $ 500 and $ 1,500 for their education.
The foundation also annually awards the Ciara O’Driscoll Memorial Scholarship of Hope, valued at US $ 500 to US $ 1,000, to a Masuk High School graduate with special needs for post-secondary education or endeavors.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no scholarships were awarded last year, so O’Driscoll is hoping to award a total of four scholarships this year, two for 2020 graduates and two for current seniors.
Although students are returning to school this year, no applications have been received from O’Driscoll for the scholarships.
For application forms and information on applying for the Ciara O’Driscoll Memorial Scholarship for Special Education, click here. To apply for the Ciara O’Driscoll Memorial Scholarship of Hope, click here. Those with questions can email Lori O’Driscoll at [email protected]
The application deadline is October 20th, and O’Driscoll hopes to announce the grant will be announced on Chasing Ciaras Light 5k / 12k Trail Run at Great Hollow Lake on October 30th.
All proceeds from the event, which includes a Kids Fun Run, will go to the Ciara O’Driscoll Memorial Scholarship Program and the Ciara’s Light Foundation. Information on registration can be found here.
The race didn’t take place last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but supporters are making it happen this October.
“The support we’re getting from the community is so moving,” said O’Driscoll. “It all happened so quickly. It’s only been a month since we realized we could do it. I had a small army of volunteers from the Monroe community – and now all we need is runners and walkers to enjoy the event. “
O’Driscoll said her family is grateful for the way people have supported the trail run over the years. She said Monroe Lions Football and Cheer has always sponsored the event, and this year every third and eighth grade football player comes with their son Aidan.
Ciara’s Butterfly Bash
When Ciara was alive, O’Driscoll and another mother formed the Dravet Syndrome Foundation with the aim of raising awareness and research funding for Dravet syndrome and related epilepsy. His standout event was his annual gala: Ciaras Butterfly Bash, held in Greenwich.
“Ciara’s Butterfly Bash is an adults-only event, but Ciara stood up and spoke,” said O’Driscoll. “She has helped give hope to the people with the disease that it was not just downfall and tribulation. Not only was she a good speaker, she wrote it herself, ”added O’Driscoll of her daughter’s speeches.
O’Driscoll is no longer active at DSF and invests all of her energy in the Ciara’s Light Foundation, which acts as managing director.
Aside from the grants, Ciara’s Light offers grants that enable families with children with special needs or life-threatening illnesses to afford service dogs, medical devices, adaptive safety equipment, home safety items, and items and services not covered by insurance.
The foundation also offers scholarships that enable families to send their children to camp and unified dance. O’Driscoll said she wants them to have the same opportunities Ciara had.
“We are also working to raise awareness about SUDEP and Dravet Syndrome,” she said. SUDEP is the sudden, unexpected death of an otherwise healthy person with epilepsy.
O’Driscoll is hoping Masuk seniors will apply for the scholarship to pursue careers in special education as Monroe’s professionals have helped their own daughter.
“We moved from Monroe to Stamford just before Ciara was two for the special education preschool program,” she recalls. “That was by far the best decision we made. The teachers and staff were so good to her. It’s the whole program. It was carried over to Monroe Elementary School, then Jockey Hollow when she died. “